Churches, synagogues, temples and other houses of worship are in general excluded from receiving grants after natural disasters from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, The New York Times reported Jan. 3.
While many private nonprofits qualify for federal disaster assistance grants, including zoos, museums, performing arts centers and libraries, houses of worship are not on the list, despite the fact that the U.S. has ruled previously that some religiously affiliated institutions, such as schools and hospitals, can get the grants, the Times said.
For example, when Hurricane Sandy flooded St. George Malankara Orthodox Church of India in New Dorp, Staten Island, N.Y., the basement was ruined and windows and doors were severely damaged.
Rev. Alex K. Joy, the Indian American vicar of the church, petitioned FEMA for a grant to help with an estimated $150,000 in rebuilding expenses.
“FEMA said that they considered the church a business, so they offered us a loan,” he told the Times. “But we don’t want a loan. We have 400 members, 90 families. In this situation, we need some assistance.”