Agudath Israel Statement on U.S. Department of Ed Review of Regulatory Restrictions on Aid to Religious Colleges and Universities

Statement of Rabbi Abba Cohen, Vice President for Federal Affairs and Washington Director, Agudath Israel of America, Regarding U.S. Department of Education Review of Regulatory Restrictions on Aid to Religious Colleges and Universities:

Agudath Israel of America welcomes the announcement that U.S Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos plans to review and amend agency rules, including those placing restrictions on financial aid to religious colleges and universities, that are legally obsolete and unduly onerous.

Updating regulations to reflect current law and to remove unnecessary restrictions is sound administration and good government. And it is especially important when old regulations reflect discriminatory policy. The Supreme Court has spoken out clearly and unequivocally that faith-based institutions, per se, should not be denied federal benefits when the programs are secular and available to all. Indeed, to exclude religious schools and other entities in this manner is unfair and evinces a hostility toward religion prohibited by our law.

The department will need to approach this task carefully and judiciously, as there may surely exist restrictions that properly protect against the establishment of religion and that safeguard religious free exercise. We are confident, however, that this can be accomplished while fulfilling the department’s worthy goal of eliminating unjust and unnecessary burdens and restrictions on faith-based educational entities and promoting greater inclusiveness in our federal education programs.