This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider H.R. 592, a bill that would allow taxpayer money to go towards the rebuilding of houses of worship
The Center for Inquiry (CFI) opposes this measure as unconstitutional and unnecessary, and urges its members to contact their U.S. Representative and tell him or her to vote “no.”
H.R. 592, sponsored by Christopher Smith (R-NJ), would amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and make houses of worship eligible for disaster relief and emergency assistance from the government on terms equal to other eligible non-profit facilities.
By consequence, taxpayers would be funding houses of worship with which they may not agree, and the government would be advancing religion.
This would violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which mandates that the government should make no law respecting an establishment of religion. It would also violate decades of Supreme Court jurisprudence, which has fleshed out the principle of separation of church and state as meaning that the government remain neutral on matters of religion.
In fact, the Supreme Court specifically ruled in the 1973 case Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty v. Nyquist that the government should not construct, rebuild, or repair buildings used for religious activities—which clearly includes houses of worship.
Furthermore, houses of worship are already eligible, like most other non-profits, to apply for loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
CFI realizes that Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters cause immense damage. But, even in times of extreme difficulty, the government must adhere to the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state.
Take action now!
Please Vote No on H.R. 592
Dear [Decision Maker],
As a friend of the Center for Inquiry, I am writing to ask you to reject H.R. 592, a bill that would allow taxpayer money to go towards the rebuilding of houses of worship. I believe this measure is unconstitutional and unnecessary.
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]
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