President Donald Trump put himself into the middle of an ongoing lawsuit late Friday, tweeting support for giving federal aid to Texas churches dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Three Texas churches filed a lawsuit this week challenging a Federal Emergency Management Agency policy that excludes religious institutions from receiving disaster-relief grants.
"Churches in Texas should be entitled to reimbursement from FEMA Relief Funds for helping victims of Hurricane Harvey (just like others)," Trump tweeted Friday night.
The three churches, the Harvest Family Church, the Hi-Way Tabernacle and the Rockport First Assembly of God, "are not seeking special treatment; they are seeking a fair shake," the lawsuit reads. "And they need to know now whether they have any hope of counting on FEMA or whether they will continue to be excluded entirely from these FEMA programs."
All three churches were damaged during Hurricane Harvey, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
Trump's support for providing Texas churches with federal money is notable given that the lawsuit was filed against his own administration. It is unclear whether the president meant the tweet as a broader call for FEMA to treat secular nonprofits and religious-based groups equally in the disbursement of disaster-relief funds.
The lawsuit comes after the Supreme Court handed down a major religious liberty decision in late-June, ruling that a Missouri policy that excluded a church-run preschool from a grant program was unconstitutional, potentially opening the door for similar cases.
The White House and FEMA did not immediately return requests for comment Saturday.