Abbott, Paxton want places of worship considered for Harvey FEMA aid

AUSTIN - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote a letter to President Donald Trump Wednesday pleading to have churches and other religious institutions included in federal funding assistance for Hurricane Harvey disaster relief.

In a statement issued by Paxton's office, the pair said under Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines, assistance is offered to private non-profit organizations like zoos and museums, while religious facilities are excluded.

Both lawmakers said President Trump has the ability to add churches and other places of worship into FEMA's policy guide.

“Churches have opened their doors to feed, shelter, comfort, and rebuild their communities – even hosting FEMA operations in the process – but this policy has made those very same churches ineligible for assistance because their primary use is, by nature, religious,” Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Paxton wrote.

Abbott and Paxton also pointed to a recent U.S. Supreme court decision in their letter to the president. The court ruled religious organizations can't be denied government funding and other programs that are available to secular organizations, citing a violation of the first amendment. 

Read the full letter here.

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