Over the last few days, we have been chronicling how a flat-out fabrication by the ACLJ about a provision in the economic stimulus legislation would supposedly ban religious students from using university facilities.
As we’ve pointed out repeatedly, the provision says nothing of the sort … but that hasn’t stopped the ACLJ’s Jay Sekulow from intentionally spreading this misinformation far and wide, writing about it on his Beliefnet blog where he called it “an unacceptable provision that clearly discriminates against religious organizations,” as well as on The Hill’s Congress Blog, where he said it was designed to “bolster efforts by those who would like nothing more than to strip religion and faith from our culture.”
Sekulow’s lies about this provision then induced both the Liberty Counsel and the Traditional Values Coalition to hop on board the effort to get it stripped from the legislation, which in turn generated coverage from right-wing news outlets like OneNewsNow and CNS News.
And you know that it has finally become an official right-wing talking point when it shows up in the Family Research Council’s “Washington Update“:
Buried in the education component of the bill is language that singles out religious institutions for discriminations … liberals shouldn’t be using the stimulus bill as an opportunity to practice viewpoint discrimination with government funds and encourage colleges and universities to discourage religious activity on campus out of fear of losing out on federal dollars.
Early on, Sen. Jim DeMint hopped on the ACLJ’s bandwagon and now Sekulow reports that DeMint has officially introduced an amendment [PDF] to strip the provision from the legislation; an amendment with the stated purpose of allowing “the free exercise of religion at institutions of higher education that receive funding under” the stimulus bill.
Of course, the original provision in no way prohibits the “free exercise of religion” at universities that receive funding, but that isn’t stopping the Religious Right from lying about it in order to try to get it stripped from the bill.