Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Loss of Religious Freedom in the Language of the Stimulus Package?

I received the message below by email. I neutered it politically and offer it here as a call to moral responsibility with regard to freedom of worship. I called (202) 224-3121 to reach Senator Jim DeMint, waited, was received and registered my complaint to a girl who kept calling me "Reverend." I'll take it!

"The stimulus package has language that bans universities and colleges from using funds to renovate buildings where students engage in "religious worship."U.S. Senator Jim DeMint made the following statement after Democrats voted 43-54 against his amendment to strike from the economic stimulus bill language that discriminates against people of faith. Senator DeMint's amendment would have eliminated a provision that bans any university or college receiving restoration funds, from allowing "sectarian instruction" or "religious worship" within the facility. This would in effect bar use of campus buildings for groups like Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ, Catholic Student Ministries, Hillel and other religious organizations. "This is a direct attack on students of faith, and I'm outraged [that] an economic stimulus bill [is being used] to promote discrimination," said Sen. DeMint.... "These students simply want equal access to public facilities, which is their constitutional right. This hostility toward religion must end. Those who voted for this discrimination are standing in the schoolhouse door to keep people of faith from entering any campus building renovated by this bill." ... "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."

This funding restriction is unconstitutional. In the 2001 Good News Club v. Milford Central School Supreme Court decision, the court ruled that restricting religious speech within the context of public shared-use facilities (or schools) is unconstitutional.

Pages 164-165 of the stimulus contain the following prohibitions on the use of $3.5 billion available for renovation of public or private college and university facilities.


"(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."

As Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama's new chief of staff remarked in the Wall Street Journal of November 21, 2008 in the spirit of Saul Alinsky: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

Alinsky's wrote his "Rules for Radicals" (Vintage 1989) as "a revolutionary handbook not cast in a communist or capitalist mold but as a manual for the Have-Nots of the world... how to oranize for power"(p. 8-9). The key is to "keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utililze all events of the period for your purpose" (p. 128).

I would suggest that we are here in neither an ideology of communism or capitalism. Rather, we are witnessing what Ratzinger foretold in 1992 in his CWR article on "And then there was... NIHILISM." The alternative seems to be the following: either we promote the truth of the "working person" to order freedom, or we will be dominated by totalitarian power.

I called (202) 224 3121 and registered my complaint.

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