Religious Discrimination Embedded in Stimulus Bill

The economic stimulus bill before the Senate contains a provision that would discriminate against religious activity, according to a Christian legal firm.

The legislative team at American Center for Law and Justice has noticed that a provision in Section 803 of the measure contains language that would prohibit schools that accept funding for the renovation of university facilities from allowing religious activity to take place at those facilities.

ACLJ made the observation on Tuesday.

The provision reads: "Grants awarded under this section shall be for the purpose of modernizing, renovating, and repairing institution of higher education facilities that are primarily used for instruction and research," according to ACLJ, which specializes in protecting religious liberties.

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."

"This is a discriminatory measure that must be removed from the stimulus bill," writes Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of ACLJ on his Trial Notebook blog.

The D.C.-based legal group says the provision would prohibit universities that allow student groups to use facilities for Bible studies or worship services from receiving federal funds under the stimulus package.

ACLJ said its teams are looking into the issue.

President Obama's economic stimulus plan was approved by the House last week without a single Republican vote.

The bill has drawn fire from pro-family groups because it set aside $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STD) but killed funding for abstinence education programs.

On Monday, Senate Democrats dropped the controversial STD program from the bill after Republican leaders released a list of provisions they deemed "wasteful," reports CNN.

The Senate version of the bill stands at nearly $900 billion, while the House version included approximately $825 billion in funding.

President Obama wants a bill signed by Presidents' Day.

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