Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal government. The documents below constitute examples of guidance from the President and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that outline the protections provided in law for faith-based or religious organizations.
The guidance establishes several important principles, including:
- To the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity.
- A faith-based or religious organization that participates in DOJ-funded programs or services will retain its independence from government, and may continue to carry out its mission, including the practice and expression of its religious beliefs, as long as it does not use direct financial assistance from DOJ to support any explicitly religious activities, including activities that involve overt religious content such as worship, religious instruction, or proselytization.
- Faith-based or religious organizations are eligible, on the same basis as any other organization, to participate in any DOJ program for which they are otherwise eligible.
- Neither the DOJ nor any State or local government receiving funds under any DOJ program shall, in the selection of service providers, discriminate for or against an organization on the basis of the organization's religious character or affiliation, or lack thereof.
- Any organization that participates in programs funded by DOJ shall not, in providing services, discriminate against a program beneficiary on the basis of religion, a religious belief, a refusal to hold a religious belief, or a refusal to attend or participate in a religious practice.
- January 2021 Guidance Regarding DOJ Grants and E.O. 13798
- Attorney General Memorandum on Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty
- E.O. 13798, Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty
- FAQs on Part 38
- Sample Written Notice of Beneficiary Protections
- Sample Beneficiary Referral Request
- Certification Regarding Hiring Practices on the Basis of Religion
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs enforces the DOJ regulation “Partnerships with Faith-Based and Other Neighborhood Organizations,” found at 28 C.F. R. Part 38, which prohibits the type of discrimination described above. Any faith-based or religious organization that believes it has been discriminated against by a DOJ grantee regarding a subaward may submit a complaint to the OCR. The OCR recommends including the following information when filing your complaint:
- Your name and contact information, including a phone number and email address, if available;
- The name and address of the faith-based or religious organization subject to the alleged discrimination;
- The name and address of the entity that allegedly discriminated;
- The exact date when the alleged discrimination took place or was discovered;
- A detailed description of the alleged discrimination and why you believe it was based on religion;
- A list of any people whom we might contact for additional information to support or clarify your complaint; and
- Copies of records or other documentary evidence.
Potential complainants are encouraged to review the documents above, including the FAQ on 28 C.F.R. Part 38, and can find more information about filing a complaint in the OCR’s FAQ. Complaints should be submitted to the Office for Civil Rights at:
Office for Civil Rights
Office of Justice Programs
U.S. Department of Justice
810 Seventh Street NW
Washington, DC 20531
The statutory and regulatory information contained on this page does not constitute legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. The OCR makes no guarantee that the statutory authority or regulatory code citied within is the most current version of said law/regulation. For more recent versions of the U.S. Code and the CFR, users should consult the official revised U.S.C. or the eCFR.