Thursday, February 05, 2009

Religious Discrimination Retained in Stimulus Bill

Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina pointed out that the stimulus package contains the following restrictions on the use of $3.5 billion in renovation funds for colleges and universities:

(2) PROHIBITED USES OF FUNDS.—No funds awarded under this section may be used for—

(C) modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities—

(i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or

(ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission; or construction of new facilities
His amendment, which would have removed this language, was rejected by a 54-43 vote in the Senate today. I note that Sen. Kay Hagan voted no on the amendment; given the hullabaloo that was raised by former Sen. Elizabeth Dole's questioning Hagan's Christian commitment, this would have been a quiet way for her to show otherwise. I don't think this vote proves anything one way or another, but it doesn't help her any.

Sen. DeMint responded afterward,

“This is now an ACLU stimulus designed to trigger lawsuits designed to intimidate religious organizations across the nation. This language is so vague, it’s not clear if students can even pray in a dorm room renovated with this funding since that is a form of ‘religious worship.’ If this provision remains in the bill, it will have a chilling effect on students of faith in America. ...

... Our culture cannot survive without faith and our nation cannot survive without freedom. This provision is an assault against both. It's un-American and it's unconstitutional. Intolerant and it's intolerable.”

HT: Mark Hemingway, The Corner


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