Lynn v. Sekulow

In spite of your best efforts, Jay, the United States Senate soundly rejected the argument that the stimulus package contained some terrible provision which would interfere with religious student groups meeting in buildings that might be funded by a few tax dollars.  As Media Matters pointed out so well, the effort spearheaded by Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina was based on a large amount of misinformation.  The provision of the law that you and DeMint were complaining about has been in statutes since the Reagan Administration and no student group has ever had any trouble meeting.  It simply prohibits federal construction funds to be used for college buildings that are mainly for religious purposes.  This rule is consistent with at least three major Supreme Court decisions. Moreover, DeMint (not you, to your credit) actually said during the floor debate that the main reason that his colleagues should vote for his amendment to delete the provision was because the ACLU did not want it deleted. Now there’s a brilliant debating point!

On a sour note, however, the same day that the Senate defeated the DeMint amendment, President Obama decided to expand the Bush “faith based initiative”.  We’ll be discussing this in more detail, I’m sure.  But in a nutshell, he kept in place five executive orders which permit job discrimination based on religion in federally funded programs.  In addition, he created a Council of (mainly) religious leaders to oversee this and other “faith” initiatives.  Since when does the United States have any official religious advisors?

This decision has not gone over well with womens’ groups, editorial writers, and (of course) yours truly. My concern is that the President may have bought in to some “fear tactics” of some evangelical churches that requiring fundamental fairness in hiring will somehow corrupt the integrity of their ministries.  Those that share such viewponts should just shun the federal dollars and everybody would be happy.

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