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Trump eases rules for religious social service providers

Collin Binkley, AP News |

The new policy applies to funding from nine agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Education Department and the Department of Health and Human Services. Together, the agencies award billions of dollars a year in grants and contracts.

Chief among the changes is the elimination of a rule requiring faith-based groups to tell clients about their religious affiliation and to refer clients to a different program upon request. It also removes a rule telling religious groups to give clients written notice about their rights, including that they can’t be forced to participate in religious activities.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the policy ensures that faith-based groups “do not give up their First Amendment rights as a condition of participating in taxpayer programs.”

“Some faith-based agencies provide services in a way that is discriminatory,” said Jennifer Pizer, law and policy director for Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ rights group. “They think being an LGBTQ person is not legitimate, so they include religious proselyting or provide services in a way that doesn’t respect people’s identity. And that drives people away.”

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