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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Strengthening Federal Partnerships with Faith-based and Community Organizations - comment period must be on or before October 5, 2015

Posted from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in coordination with multiple other federal agencies, issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will amend the current regulations to align with Executive Order 13559. HHS’ proposed rule will strengthen partnerships between HHS and faith-based and other community organizations to provide social services to those in need.
The proposed rule amends the existing regulations that address the equal treatment of faith-based organizations. These proposed amendments would:
  • Clarify the definitions of direct and indirect financial assistance
  • Replace the term “inherently religious activities” with the term “explicitly religious activities”
  • Require faith-based organizations administering a program supported with direct HHS financial assistance to provide beneficiaries with a written notice informing them of their religious liberty protections. This would also include notice of the right to request referrals to any available alternative providers if the beneficiary objects to the religious character of the organization providing services
  • Add language clarifying that decisions about awards of federal financial assistance must be free from political interference and based on merit
We encourage the general public to submit comments on the proposed rule at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/08/06/2015-18256/updating-participation-in-programs-by-faith-based-or-religious-organizations-and-providing-for-equal. Written comments must be postmarked and electronic comments must be submitted on or before October 5, 2015.

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