During the COVID-19 crisis, the Small Business Administration has been temporarily ignoring church/state requirements in order to unconstitutionally bail out houses of worship under the Paycheck Protection Program. As a result, churches and religious organizations have received more than $7.3 billion in taxpayer dollars. Now, the agency is proposing to permanently change its rule to strip away all restrictions on giving funds to religious organizations.
SBA’s long standing rule against providing funds to religious organizations was implemented in 1996 to “comport with Constitutional requirements” and protect the separation of religion and government.
The rule does actually need to be updated to follow recent Supreme Court guidance. But the agency doesn’t want to update it — they plan to strip it altogether and open the door to taxpayer dollars being given to religious organizations.
We’ve already seen what happens when this restriction is lifted. During the Paycheck Protection Program, money given to religious organizations was subject to fraud and abuse because there is a lack of transparency and accountability. And even the money that was not subject to fraud was used to unconstitutionally support religious activities!
We must tell SBA to reconsider this ill-advised rule change. American Atheists plans to work with the incoming Biden Administration to halt this effort.
But to be successful, the agency must hear from as many people as possible that this is not acceptable!