Q: Will my organization be sacrificing its autonomy or its First Amendment or statutory rights if it requests and receives a loan?
A: No. Receipt of a loan through any SBA program does not (1) limit the authority of religious organizations to define the standards, responsibilities, and duties of membership; (2) limit the freedom of religious organizations to select individuals to perform work connected to that organization’s religious exercise; nor (3) constitute waiver of any rights under federal law, including rights protecting religious autonomy and exercise under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000b et seq., Section 702 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-1(a), or the First Amendment.
Simply put, a faith-based organization that receives a loan will retain its independence, autonomy, right of expression, religious character, and authority over its governance, and no faith-based organization will be excluded from receiving funding because leadership with, membership in, or employment by that organization is limited to persons who share its religious faith and practice.
This Q&A was based on information contained in the SBA’s “Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Participation of Faith-based Organizations in the Paycheck protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL)” dated 4/3/2020. This CARES Act / SBA / PPP related issuance which addresses faith based organizations, including houses of worship (such as a church, temple, mosque, or synagogue) may be found here: https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2020-04/SBA%20Faith-Based%20FAQ%20Final.pdf