Washington, D.C. – Today’s vote in the U.S. House of Representatives allowing the federal government to provide funds to rebuild houses of worship damaged by Hurricane Sandy (H.R. 592) raises serious concerns about the boundaries between religion and government. Interfaith Alliance president Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, a longtime critic of this practice, voiced his concern and asked the Senate to put a stop to this effort.

“Today’s vote in the House of Representatives to allow federal funds to be used to rebuild houses of worship damaged by Hurricane Sandy is a serious setback for religious freedom that ultimately could hurt houses of worship more than it helps them. It is now up to the Senate and President Obama to stand against this ill-advised action.”

“Steering tax dollars to religious institutions in this manner violates the boundaries between religion and government, and opens the door to government intrusion into the affairs of houses of worship. Making an exception in this case, while well-meaning, will only result in damaging a principle that has ensured the ability of diverse faith and belief to flourish in this country for centuries.”

“Furthermore, to imply as this bill now does, that a house of worship ‘provides essential services of a governmental nature,’ does a disservice to religious institutions. There is no doubt in my mind that houses of worship are essential. They are not however ‘of a government nature,’ and to imply otherwise is to challenge the independence and integrity of these institutions. Houses of worship often provide critical services to their communities and, even while sometimes done in partnership with government, this work is rooted in their faith, and in their religious teachings, not in being an extension of government.”

Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.