Rubio’s “Lifting Local Communities Act” Tackles Unjust Barriers, Reprisals for Religious Beliefs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) on Tuesday joined U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in introducing legislation to ensure faith-based organizations may apply for, and receive, government grants and other types of funding without fear of arbitrary religious limitations and vindictive litigation.

The Lifting Local Communities Act (S.4735) would codify the right of faith-based organizations to fully participate in federally-funded social services without fear of government reprisal or burdensome restrictions based on their faith.  It also recognizes the significant contributions of these groups in providing healthcare, adoption, and other social services to the underserved.

“Every day the Biden administration persists in its efforts to roll back protections for religious organizations.  It’s not right,” Hyde-Smith said.  “The Lifting Local Communities Act would protect religious organizations from the unfair policies that subject them to requirements that secular organizations don’t have to worry about.  This bill would codify the right of faith-based organizations to do their work without the government threatening their religious liberties.”

“Churches and other faith-based organizations play a vital role in Lifting up their communities.  These organizations should not be discriminated against because of their faith or held back by bureaucratic red tape.  This bill would ensure that faith-based organizations do not have to compromise their beliefs to provide critical social services to those in need,” Rubio said.

The Biden administration, while currently reviewing existing rules for faith-based organization participation in social service programs, has struck an antagonistic posture toward these providers.

S.4735 would codify vital religious protections in the delivery of federal social service dollars across all federal social service programs.  Among other things, the legislation would (one-pager): 

  • Ensure religious organizations are eligible to apply for and provide federal social services on the same basis as non-religious organizations.
  • Prohibit the government from subjecting religious organizations to requirements that do not also apply to secular organizations or disqualify them as a result of their religious exercise.
  • Ensure religious organizations receiving federal funds can maintain their independence and freedom to retain their name, structure, and religious practices.
  • Clarify that religious exemptions and accommodations in federal law with respect to an organization’s hiring decisions and religious exercise continue to apply when a religious organization accepts federal money.
  • Clarify that federal rules apply when states are administering federal social service program.
  • Create a private right of action for religious organizations to sue any entity that violates its rights under this bill. 

Additional cosponsors include U.S. Senators Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.).

Several organizations support the bill, including First Liberty Institute, CatholicVote, Freedom & Faith Coalition, Heritage Action, and Family Research Council.