Today, nine agencies are publishing a final rule that will provide new religious liberty protections for beneficiaries of federally funded social service programs, while also adding new protections for the ability of religious providers to compete for government funds on the same basis as any other private organization. The regulations - which are being published after public notice and comment - formally implement Executive Order 13559, Fundamental Principles and Policymaking Criteria for Partnerships with Faith-Based and Other Neighborhood Organizations.
In 2009, President Obama appointed a diverse Advisory Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and asked Council members to make recommendations for strengthening the social service partnerships the Government forms with nongovernmental providers, including strengthening the constitutional and legal footing of these partnerships. While Council members differed on some important issues in this area, they were able to come to agreement on a number of significant recommendations. In response to the Advisory Council's recommendations, on November 17, 2010, President Obama issued Executive Order 13559.
On August 6, 2015, the following agencies published proposed regulations to implement EO 13559: the Department of Education, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Agriculture, Agency for International Development, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Health and Human Services. Today, following receipt and consideration of public comments, these agencies are issuing final regulations.
The final rule sets forth changes to current regulations, including changes that:
While these regulations become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, recipients of Federal financial assistance have until 90 days after publication in the Federal Register to satisfy the new obligations in the final regulations. For more information, click here.
These regulations build on widespread agreement that we can and should do more to protect the religious liberty of beneficiaries and provide greater clarity and transparency about applicable church-state rules. These reforms will strengthen partnerships that serve people in need, and we commend the agencies for working together to issue these final regulations.
Melissa Rogers is Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of White House Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships.