Biden administration proposed rule advances religious freedom

BJC: New regulations strengthen the constitutional safeguards governing the relationship between the federal government and faith-based social service providers

Jan 12, 2023

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons / [email protected]

WASHINGTON – Today, nine federal agencies – The United States Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, and Veterans Affairs and the United States Agency for International Development –
proposed a new rule concerning the religious liberty protections for beneficiaries of federally-funded social services. 

In response, Holly Hollman, general counsel and associate executive director of BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty), issued the following statement:

The Biden administration’s proposed rule is an important return to religious liberty principles that protect all Americans. Restoring the focus on beneficiaries is welcome news for religious freedom advocates and those who depend on social services. Federal agencies have a responsibility to ensure that Americans who qualify for taxpayer-funded social services will not be coerced into participating in religious activities. 


Americans who need to access food banks, homeless shelters, elder care facilities or a range of other services should never have to meet some religious requirement to get the help they need. Americans of all religious traditions and nonreligious Americans will be freer to access taxpayer-funded services under these proposed regulations.  


BJC was critical of the Trump administration’s rules concerning federal funding for faith-based organizations because they stripped away religious freedom protections from vulnerable people. The Trump administration wrongly prioritized providers who may want to infuse religion in a government program over intended beneficiaries. We are glad to see those rules rescinded. 


We appreciate the intensive interagency work that has gone into clarifying and strengthening protections for religious liberty. BJC is carefully reviewing the proposed rule and plans to submit comments as part of the federal government’s rulemaking process.

You can learn more about this issue on an upcoming episode of Respecting Religion, the podcast Holly Hollman hosts with BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler.  


BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) is an 87-year-old religiously based organization working to defend faith freedom for all and protect the institutional separation of church and state in the historic Baptist tradition. BJC is the home of the Christians Against Christian Nationalism campaign.