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23 September 2017

Texas Churches Sue to Gain Access to Federal Disaster Relief Coffers

So according to my Facebook Memories, this blog post ~ Should Churches be Tax-Exempt? ~ was shared September 23, 2016. (It was published April 2016 and the updated and republished April 2017.) Whereas it is an interesting discussion, the tax-exempt status for churches is not really a current topic for debate.

This year (September 2017), we in the USA, were hit by 3 hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, and Maria). After it was over, people did what they always do! Go back home and try to salvage what they can salvage and rebuild what needs to be rebuilt, etc., etc. Usually, many organizations and individuals get involved in charitable efforts, donating their time, money and energy. In other words, nobody waits for the government to knock on the door and say “I'm from the government. We're here to help.”   That's a fact.

That FACT has generated a news report I heard about 1 or 2 days ago on the radio. Evidently, the QUESTION to be debated is not about tax exemption for churches but:

  • "Should churches (and other faith-based organizations) receive government funds from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) for their assistance which they provide as relief for hurricane victims?”

The news report said that some churches (in Texas) had already filed a lawsuit wanting FEMA funds for their efforts.

SUING? Seriously?



Here are some Information References for further details:

Bailey, Sheryl. “Health Care : Sens Propose Bill That Would Allow FEMA Help for Churches Newburgh Gazette.” Newburgh Gazette, 21 Sept. 2017, newburghgazette.com/2017/09/21/sens-propose-bill-that-would-allow-fema-help-for-churches/
The churches note, "Ironically, although FEMA partners with churches to provide shelters and distribute aid to disaster areas, the PA Policy Guide prohibits those same churches from applying for or receiving such relief". … houses of worship were deemed ineligible for the grants under the 1988 Stafford Act.”


Green, Lauren, and Patrick Manning. “Texas Churches Suing FEMA for Equal Access to Nonprofit Relief Funds.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 14 Sept. 2017, www.foxnews.com/us/2017/09/14/texas-churches-suing-fema-for-equal-access-to-nonprofit-relief-funds.html
"President Trump seems to agree. He tweeted last week: 'Churches in Texas should be entitled to reimbursement from FEMA relief funds for helping victims of hurricane Harvey (just like others).'"


Kruzel, John. “How the U.S. Funds Disaster Recovery.” PolitiFact, Tampa Bay Times, 14 Sept. 2017, www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/sep/14/how-us-funds-disaster-recovery/.

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My Thoughts?

As a faithful Christian, I don't see the need for this discussion no more than there was a need to debate tax the exemption status. The Bible says: As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10) There is no additional language or verses anywhere in the Bible that says: “And make sure you get funding or reimbursement from the government for carrying out this command of Jesus Christ, your Lord and Savior.”  

Of course, one could stretch a scriptural “interpretation” and say that going to court and suing to receive FEMA funds is just the good Lord's way of returning the blessing for the kindness shown by 'our church' to others who were in need.  "The Lord helps those who help themselves."   

I think it's a stretch.  But if they're wrong the Only One they will answer to on Judgement Day is the Lord in the Divine Court where all final decisions are made.  +++ 
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