April 3, 2020

Manisha Sunil, West End Strategy Team; Phone: 202-417-0171

Small Business Administration’s CARES Act Rule Could Allow Private Religious Institutions to Accept Taxpayers Dollars

WASHINGTON, D.C.Today, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released the Interim Final Rule for the business loans and paycheck programs funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Responding to the rule’s express invitation for religious institutions to apply for federal assistance, Katy Joseph, Policy and Legislation Advisor for Interfaith Alliance, stated:  

“The Small Business Administration just announced that religious groups, including houses of worship, will be eligible for funding under the CARES Act. This is a direct violation of the separation of religion and government. Emergency assistance funding is supposed to help small businesses pay their employees during an economic crisis – not channel taxpayer dollars to private religious institutions.

“Our democratic values are most at risk in times of crisis. The Trump administration and their conservative Christian allies clearly see this global pandemic as an opportunity to undermine the separation of religion and government when they think no one is looking.

“Just yesterday, we called on the SBA to create funding guidelines that respect the Establishment Clause and require loan recipients to serve all those in need – without discriminating in the name of faith. Instead, millions of federal dollars may flow to houses of worship and faith-based groups that turn away LGBTQ+ people and other marginalized groups. The federal government should be working to meet the skyrocketing needs of our most vulnerable, not creating new funding streams for the president’s friends.” 

If you are interested in speaking further with Katy Joseph, please contact Manisha Sunil at


Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit