People of faith may be target of ‘stimulus’ package

by Charlie Butts and Jody Brown – – 2/5/2009 6:30:00 AM

The administration’s economic stimulus bill needs a fix to avoid a courtroom confrontation.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law & Justice, tells OneNewsNow there is a provision of the act that actually allows for funds to be given by the federal government in the form of grants for renovation of existing colleges and universities.

“But when you read a little bit further into this legislation, there’s a specific prohibition on two things,” the attorney explains. “One, if the university itself is a religiously based or faith-based institution, it does not qualify. And if the facility that is being renovated allows religious worship to take place, it also does not qualify.”

Specifically, the provision reads that stimulus funds may not be used for “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 that provision, according to Sekulow, many schools would bar on-campus worship or even Bible study because it will put federal funding in jeopardy. That, he says, should raise a warning flag in a federal courthouse.

“It is unconstitutional — and while I’m prepared to challenge it in court, and we’re already working on a possibility, it really needs to be handled in the legislation,” the ACLJ leader suggests. “That needs to be job one…remove this provision and get it out of the legislation.”

Sekulow states that a “troubling pattern” is developing regarding the use of taxpayer money — and that this provision is the latest example. He contrasts it with the new administration’s swift move to make federal funds available for abortion-providers overseas.

“There is a priority problem in Washington,” he says in a press release. “This is not what ‘economic stimulus’ is about. We know that the American people don’t want their tax dollars used for discriminatory measures. That’s why this provision must be removed now.”

The attorney says if the discriminatory provision is not removed from the stimulus package and is approved and signed into law, the ACLJ will challenge it in federal court.

Stimulation of discrimination?

Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, agrees that the “anti-faith” language of the provision will censor and force people of faith from the public square.

“In order to receive stimulus money our public schools will have to expel after-school Bible clubs and weekend religious meetings,” says the Christian attorney. “People who want to speak about their faith will be unwelcome in public places.”

He adds that President Obama’s idea of faith-based initiatives apparently is to “remove faith from all initiatives.”

Copyright 2007 American Family News Network – Used by permission.