But the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has to differentiate which victims qualify for government aid. And churches don’t make the cut.
So three Texas churches impacted by Hurricane Harvey sued FEMA this week for deeming them ineligible for disaster relief grants. The agency’s policy excludes sanctuaries that serve as shelters after natural disasters.
I am conflicted about this issue. It is a Tom as lawyer vs. Tom as pastor thing.
As a lawyer, it is clear Constitutional law that the government is not allowed to discriminate based upon a person or institution’s beliefs. It is called viewpoint based discrimination. So if a type of benefit is offered by the government generally, it cannot decide to pick and choose between the recipients of that benefit based upon their beliefs. This is designed to protect the country from the government (political party in power) supporting only those beliefs it likes and punishing those it does not like.
As a pastor, it is not so clear. If we as a church are offering our services out of the love of Jesus should we fight to get reimbursed by the government? Is this a battle we fight in the name of the church?
I agree that the government is in the wrong, but just because we have a right as a Christian doesn’t mean we should exercise it.
What should our response be as a church?
What do you think?