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 is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit