The Trump administration on Monday moved to loosen Obama-era restrictions on religious organizations that receive federal money to provide social services.
In new rules coordinated across nine federal agencies, the administration said it was clearing barriers that make it difficult for religious groups to participate in federal programs.
Chief among the changes is the elimination of a rule requiring religious groups to tell clients about their religious affiliation and to refer clients to a different program upon request.
It also removes a rule telling religious groups to give clients written notice regarding their rights, including that they can’t be forced to participate in religious activities.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said the changes will “remove unfair obstacles” standing before groups that seek to contract with the agency to help veterans.
“VA partners with hundreds of groups across the country that are looking to support our [veterans],” Wilkie said. “Making it harder for faith-based groups to deliver this support never made sense.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the policy ensures that religious organizations “do not give up their First Amendment rights as a condition of participating in taxpayer programs.”
The new policy, which will take effect on Jan. 16, applies to funding from nine agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Education Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.