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Protecting Religious Freedom

While I was tempted to support grants that might provide some relief to a number of shuls, I was not willing to trade that potential short-term benefit for the likelihood of real long-term harm to religious freedom protections.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler

Rep. Jerrold Nadler

While keeping government away from religion is critical to protect religious minorities’ liberty, that does not mean government is powerless to help religious institutions. When religious institutions provide essential services – and many have been important partners in the post-Sandy recovery – they are perfectly eligible to receive federal grants. And they should.

I was also deeply troubled by the reckless way in which the legislation was forced through the House in just a few days, making it impossible to even consider constitutional defects or to try to find a way to provide further assistance that would survive the inevitable court challenge. I urged my colleagues to take a little time to try to “get it right.” They chose instead to “get it now.” That careless haste will likely leave us with nothing.

I will continue to fight to ensure that our community – including our vital religious institutions – receives all the assistance government can provide. But I will do so in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution and the preservation of our most precious liberties. I understand that some will not always agree – nor will everyone like some of my decisions – but our religious liberty is too important to sacrifice for apparent short-term advantage or political popularity.

About the Author: Jerrold Nadler represents the 10th Congressional District of New York and is ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution.


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