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Trump Administration Must Disclose Full Details of $7.3 Billion Church Bailout, Federal Court Rules

Washington, D.C.11/5/2020—Today, the church/state watchdog organization praised the United States District Court for the District of Columbia’s ruling that the Trump Administration must disclose the full details of the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loan recipients. This program includes approximately $7.3 billion used to bail out churches.

“This is an important victory for government accountability and church/state separation,” said Alison Gill, Vice President for Legal and Policy at American Atheists. “Americans will learn exactly how much of their tax dollars were used to unconstitutionally support the religious activities of churches.”

In July, the Trump Administration released incomplete data in response to multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, including American Atheists’ from June 16. The Trump Administration’s decision to only release broad ranges of loan amounts for recipients, including houses of worship, receiving more than $150,000 and to not release the names of recipients receiving less than $150,000 prevented full transparency.

“Once these documents are made available, we will scour them and find out why the Trump Administration wanted to hide the details of this church bailout from taxpayers. Our investigation continues,” said Gill.

“This is a win for religious equality and accountability. But it’s just the first step. The Trump Administration has allowed religious entities, including Catholic churches, to ignore PPP rules, fire workers, and still get their loans forgiven,” said Nick Fish, president of American Atheists. “There are still massive flaws in this program that have allowed churches to skirt the rules and ignore the basic requirements of the program—to say nothing of the fact that this multi-billion dollar giveaway to religious worship should never have happened in the first place.”