Why This AG Church Is Headed to Court

Damage from hurricane Harvey.
Damage from hurricane Harvey. (Becket/Courtesy)

Three Texas-based houses of worship were in federal court yesterday challenging FEMA's "no churches need apply" aid policy following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. In Harvest Family Church v. FEMA, the three churches—like hundreds of flooded and damaged churches across Texas and other hurricane-devastated regions—have been denied access to FEMA's disaster relief simply because they are religious. A ruling in this case will decide whether churches, synagogues and other houses of worship across the nation will be allowed to apply for FEMA disaster relief grants.

Harvest Family Church, Hi-Way Tabernacle and Rockport First Assembly of God filed a lawsuit against FEMA in September for denying them disaster aid. Over the past several weeks, these three churches—and many others—have applied for FEMA aid and were told that they are not eligible. Today, represented by Becket, the churches went to federal district court in Houston, arguing that FEMA's discriminatory policy puts churches at the back of the line for aid, in violation of the First Amendment.

"If the church was on fire, a fire truck would come to their aid. If there was a medical emergency, an ambulance would come to their aid," said Daniel Blomberg, counsel at Becket, the nonprofit law firm representing the three churches. "A natural disaster should be no different. These three churches helped their communities without discrimination, and FEMA should do the same." (watch his full statement live from the courthouse.)

Houses of worship were among the first to respond in Hurricane Harvey's aftermath, and they continue to provide aid to their communities as they rebuild. Yet FEMA continues to discriminate against churches while at the same time using their buildings as relief staging centers. Its discriminatory policy defies the recent Supreme Court ruling in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer that protects the right of religious organizations to participate in widely available programs on equal footing with secular organizations.

"Our message to FEMA is this: Don't mess with Texas churches," said Blomberg. "FEMA has senselessly excluded churches long enough. We hope the Court will quickly put an end to FEMA's discriminatory policy."

The hearing took place in the Houston federal court, and a ruling is expected in the coming month.


To contact us or to submit an article, click here.


Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.

Five ways to deepen your relationship with God, increase your faith and save money!

  • Deepen Your Relationship with God with a FREE eCourse: Click Here to view all of our free e-Courses. Favorite topics include Fear, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Supernatural, and How to Hear God.
  • Super Discounts and Close-Out Specials: Click Here to view all our bundles and close-out specials and save up to 86%! Prayer, Holy Spirit, Anointing, the Supernatural and more.
  • God Wants to Anoint Women Now: Rise up and enter the anointing of Deborah, Anna, Esther, Ruth and Hannah. You were called to go higher. Click Here to learn more.
  • Change Your Atmosphere and Circumstances Through Prayer! John Eckhardt's prayer bundle gives you six powerful books to help you pray and change any situation. Click Here.
  • HUGE Bible Sale!: Click Here to save up to 50% off a great selection of Bibles. Plus, get a free gift with each order!

Subscription Special: Subscribe to Charisma for Only $24.97 and get a free gift. With your subscription, you'll receive Born For Significance by best-selling author Bill Johnson. View Offer

Attention Pastors and Leaders: Leadership training and development are crucial for success. Enroll in a FREE 1-hour leadership mini-course by Dr. Mark Rutland. View Details

Charisma News - Informing believers with news from a Spirit-filled perspective