Senator Jim DeMint has highlighted a nasty little morsel in the Democratic stimulus legislation:
(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.
That’s right — the Democrats are insisting that if stimulus funds are used by a university to repair or renovate a campus building, that building is forever banned from housing “sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity.”
Think about that for a minute. If a Syracuse dining hall has its windows replaced by the bill, students will be prohibited by federal law from saying a prayer before their meals. If Duke University builds a classroom building to house its art department with stimulus money, in the year 2120, the local U.S. Attorney can go to court to enjoin the school from moving its Divinity School into the structure. If the University of Georgia so much as changes a lightbulb purchased with stimulus money in its Chapel, it can arguably never host another marriage ceremony. And perhaps most importantly, no sectarian university could ever contemplate receiving funds from the stimulus bill, because the bill would require it to establish a “no God allowed” building in the middle of its campus.
It’s an outrageous violation of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, which any Senator should understand upon first reading. Established Supreme Court precedent has plainly prohibited government entities, such as public schools, from preventing individuals from exercising their religious liberty in orderly ways on public property. But Sen. DeMint has already tried to remove the language via amendment, and the AMENDMENT FAILED.
In case you wondered if liberalism had truly run amok in this bill, this should decide the matter for you. Even I never expected the Democrats to sink this low in week 3 of the Obama Administration. Get on the phone, folks, and put an end to this madness.