Economic Relief For Churches Raises Debate Over Church-State Separation : Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR
In a development that could challenge the Constitution’s prohibition of any law “respecting the establishment of religion,” the federal government will soon provide money directly to U.S. churches to help them pay pastor salaries and utility bills.
A key part of the $2 trillion economic relief legislation enacted last month includes about $350 billion for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to extend loans to small businesses facing financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus shutdown orders. Churches and other faith-based organizations are among the businesses that qualify for aid under the program, even if they have an exclusively religious orientation.
“Faith-based organizations are eligible to receive SBA loans regardless of whether they provide secular social services,” the SBA said in a statement. “No otherwise eligible organization will be disqualified from receiving a loan because of the religious nature, religious identity, or religious speech of the organization.”
Under the Trump Administration, the federal government has already been providing funds directly to churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious organizations. In 2018, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) changed its rules to make houses of worship eligible for disaster aid.
This is a clear violation of separation between church and state.