Barry, as debate unfolds on the economic stimulus package on Capitol Hill, we’ve already seen some of the ‘spending’ priorities of this new Administration and Congress. President Obama wasted no time in issuing an Executive Order clearing the way for using federal taxpayer funds abroad for abortion. And, many members of Congress support the push by pro-abortion groups to get more federal taxpayer dollars.
With each passing day, comes more news about what’s really in the economic stimulus package now before the Senate.
There’s a little-known provision that should be getting more attention – a discriminatory provision that unfairly targets religious activity at universities and colleges that receive federal stimulus funds.
Our legislative team became aware that the stimulus package includes a measure that clearly spells out that grants awarded under Section 803 “shall be for the purpose of modernizing, renovating, and repairing institution of higher education facilities that are primarily used for instruction and research . . .”
That provision also includes this disturbing prohibition:
“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.”
Under this provision, student groups would be barred from using facilities for worship or even Bible study if the school accepts the federal stimulus funds.
Barry, I am sure you think this provision is perfectly fine. But in our view it’s an unacceptable provision that clearly discriminates against religious organizations that have a legal right to use these facilities. Universities and colleges should not be faced with a decision like this: if you take federal stimulus funds to repair or modernize one of your buildings, you must keep religious groups out. As you also know, many student groups use these facilities for a variety of activities – not just Bible study or worship services.
This provision has nothing to do with ‘economic stimulus.’ It has everything to do with discriminatory behavior. This provision should be removed from the stimulus package.