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Proposed Veterans Affairs Rule Would Eliminate Unfair Barriers for Faith-Based Organizations, says Religious Liberty Law Firm

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February 13, 2020

News Release
For Immediate Release: 2.13.20
Contact: Lacey McNiel, media@firstliberty.org
Direct: 972-941-4453

Proposed Veterans Affairs Rule Would Eliminate Unfair Barriers for Faith-Based Organizations, says Religious Liberty Law Firm
First Liberty Institute files public comments on behalf of faith-based non-profits that help veterans combat suicide, overcome PTSD

Washington, DC—Today, First Liberty Institute submitted public comment on behalf of two faith-based organizations, Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs (MOWP) and Shield of Faith (SOF) Missions, in support of a proposed U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) rule that will ensure faith-based organizations are treated equally by federal agencies.

“For too long, faith-based organizations have been forced to choose between their religious identity and partnering with the federal government to serve our veterans,” said Mike Berry, General Counsel to First Liberty Institute.  “Organizations like Mighty Oaks and Shield of Faith do so much good in serving our veterans every day.  We commend the VA for leveling the playing field to ensure they can now partner with the federal government to help our veterans without having to sacrifice their religious beliefs.”

First Liberty’s comment supports reversing a 2010 Obama Administration rule that required faith-based social services providers to refer beneficiaries to a secular provider. Secular providers were under no such requirement.  The old rule also required faith-based social services providers to advertise the fact that they would make such referrals.  The law firm’s comment explains that “the First Amendment requires religious organizations to be treated equally and permitted to act consistent with the religious convictions that form the basis of their mission.”

By removing the referral requirement, the VA would also come into compliance with President Trump’s Executive Order 13279, which states, “No organization should be discriminated against on the basis of religion or religious belief in the administration or distribution of Federal financial assistance under social service program.”

SOF Missions exists to combat the suicide epidemic among service members and veterans by “empowering warriors to find purpose and resiliency.”  The Mighty Oaks Warrior Program teaches combat veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress how to get beyond combat trauma and live their lives “in the manner God intended.  Mighty Oaks uses their platform to advocate for civilian and government support of America’s Warriors returning home, and the inclusion of faith-based treatment options.”

To read the comments, click here.

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 About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Lacey McNiel at media@firstliberty.org or by calling 972-941-4453.

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