BJC: New rule from nine federal agencies safeguards religious freedom

New regulations strengthen the relationship between the federal government and faith-based social service providers 

Mar 1, 2024

Media contact: Karlee Marshall | [email protected]

WASHINGTON – A new federal rule buttresses the religious liberty protections of beneficiaries of federally-funded social services, according to BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty). 

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 – finalized the rule on “Partnerships With Faith-Based and Neighborhood Organizations” today. This followed an extensive public comment period, in which BJC participated.  

In response, Holly Hollman, general counsel and associate executive director of BJC, issued the following statement:

This new rule restores the focus on beneficiaries of government-funded services – protecting the religious liberty rights of people in need. 


We applaud the Biden administration for replacing the Trump administration’s rules on federal funding for faith-based organizations, which stripped away religious freedom protections from beneficiaries and wrongly prioritized providers who may want to infuse religion in a government program. 


The Biden administration rightly recognizes that religious entities should be able to provide services, and this rule ensures that beneficiaries are not subjected to extra hurdles to obtain the government-funded services they are qualified to receive. Americans who qualify for taxpayer-funded social services should never face religious coercion or religious requirements. 


Our country’s principle of religious freedom means that someone does not have to be a certain religion – or be any religion at all – to access the same taxpayer-funded services. We appreciate the intensive interagency work that has gone into clarifying and strengthening these protections. 


Religious institutions that want to provide social services can apply for and receive federal funding that is also available to secular social service providers. Federal funds rightly come with regulations that protect taxpayers and beneficiaries alike. 

Hollman and BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler spoke at length about the proposed rule in a March 2023 episode of the Respecting Religion podcast titled “Biden, Trump and federal regulations.”


BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) is an 88-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.