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.