Carlos Giusti, AP
FILE – In this Oct. 19, 2017, file photo, homes in the Cantera area are covered with FEMA tarps, where buildings from the Hato Rey area stand in the background in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A U.S. lawmaker wants the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general to review $30 million in contracts awarded to a fledgling company to provide Hurricane Maria disaster supplies that it failed to deliver. Rep. Sean Maloney, D-N.Y., made the request Nov. 30, in an amendment to the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2017. He cited reporting on the issue by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti, File)
SALT LAKE CITY — A Lutheran preschool’s Supreme Court victory six months ago just paid off for houses of worship affected by natural disasters.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, announced Jan. 2 that, in light of the justices’ decision in Trinity Lutheran Church, Inc. v. Comer, it would no longer prevent churches from applying for public assistance funds.
“FEMA has considered its guidance on private nonprofit facility eligibility and determined that it will revise its (policy) … so as not to exclude houses of worship,” wrote Alex Amparo, assistant administrator of FEMA’s recovery directorate, in the foreword to the January 2018 Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide.
This shift may be the beginning of a broad overhaul of federal funding rules, as policymakers approach the separation of church and state through the lens of the Trinity Lutheran decision. The June 2017 ruling centered on whether a religiously affiliated preschool could receive a state grant for safety upgrades to a playground, but it was widely understood to hold repercussions for a variety of other…