MAZON Celebrates Biden Administration Restoration of Religious Freedom Protections for Vulnerable People

March 4, 2024

Nine federal agencies today finalized rules to reinstate religious freedom protections for recipients of federally funded social services. In doing so, President Biden has replaced Trump-era regulations that gutted religious freedom safeguards for vulnerable people in need. MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger and a coalition of partners filed a lawsuit in January 2021 against the Trump administration for promulgating the harmful rules, and in February 2021 President Biden signaled his intent to restore these vital religious protections.

“These final rules are a major step toward the guarantee that government funds should never be used for religious discrimination,” said Abby J. Leibman, MAZON’s President and CEO. “Filing a lawsuit in the last days of the Trump administration was not an easy decision, but it was deeply important as an anti-hunger organization — and as a Jewish organization — for us to push back against rules that forced people in need to choose between food and their religious freedom. This is what it means to be an advocate. You stick your neck out and cut through the noise to make sure the most vulnerable are prioritized and protected. This regulation change across nine agencies demonstrates the Biden administration’s commitment to ensuring that all Americans are treated fairly.”

“Today marks an important moment in restoring religious freedom protections for all Americans — including the millions who struggle with hunger and poverty,” said Rabbi Joel Pitkowsky, MAZON’s Board Chair. “No one seeking assistance should ever be forced or pressured to abandon, hide, or obscure who they are — including from their faith and beliefs. Each person was created b’tselem Elohim, in the image of God, and they deserve rights, respect, and dignity. MAZON and our partners were proud to lead this effort to fight against the discriminatory and unlawful Trump-era rules, and we will keep fighting for a society that lives up to our ideals of compassion, humanity, and freedom for all.”