I wrote yesterday about Jewish organizations lining up behind new legislation that would extend federal post-Sandy assistance to houses of worship.
The law shook up some traditional alliances, particularly in the Jewish organizational community. Of the groups with a pronounced record on church-state separation, the American Jewish Committee backed such aid; the Reform movement was holding back for now; and the Anti-Defamation League was against.
Was. Now the ADL, too, has reconsidered its position — to a degree. Like Reform, it maintains opposition to such assistance in principle. However, in this case, ADL sees the need for an exception.
The ADL forwarded the following to me this afternoon:
Recognizing that the humanitarian needs in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy are tragic and significant, the Anti-Defamation League will not oppose pending legislation making funding available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help rebuild any institution destroyed or seriously damaged in this storm.
This position does not represent any lessening of ADL’s concerns regarding the risk to religious liberty posed when government funds transmitted to religious institutions directly advance the religious mission of those institutions. We continue to believe as a matter of principle that keeping government out of religion is the best way to safeguard religious freedom.
The Constitution protects religious freedom by preventing the government from funding or endorsing any religion. FEMA funding in this instance should not be interpreted as conveying any endorsement of religion.