FEMA rethinking ban on disaster aid to church buildings

Pressure is mounting on the federal agency overseeing disaster response to change its routine denial of aid to churches, synagogues and mosques.

Houses of worship are eligible for assistance when damaged buildings double as community halls. But the Federal Emergency Management Agency typically does not provide money to repair or rebuild damaged sanctuaries.

FEMA is now rethinking its policies in the face of a federal lawsuit, which is scheduled for hearing on Tuesday. It was filed by three Texas churches severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

Several members of Congress also have revived legislation that would force FEMA to pay for repairs at places of worship.