I honestly had no intention of continuing to cover the ludicrous “controversy” regarding the supposedly “anti-Christian” provision in the stimulus legislation, but it keeps popping up on right-wing websites and so I feel obligated to keep futilely trying to knock it down.
For instance, here is Jonathan Falwell writing on WorldNetDaily, who cites this provision as proof that “public religious expression is increasingly in the crosshairs of our government”:
On Thursday, I spoke with Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University School of Law about this issue. During our conversation, he stated in part that the so-called stimulus bill may lead to the banning of religious activity from public facilities, with public schools possibly being forced to expel after-hours Bible clubs and weekend religious services in order to access these government funds. This would have a chilling effect on religious ministries and church-planting organizations of all stripes, including new church plants being sent out from Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University.
Sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder if our lawmakers have even a basic understanding of our nation’s rich history of religious freedom.
First of all, stop listening to Mat Staver because he’s wrong. And secondly, sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder if anybody on the Right has even a basic understanding of how to read legislation because, if they did, they’d know that everything they are saying is outright false.
The Family Research Council also made another mention of this provision in its most recent “Washington Update”:
Although Republicans have tried to strip some excess from the stimulus, Democrats had a small victory of their own yesterday, defeating Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) amendment to ban religious discrimination from the bill by a 43-54 vote. Only Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) deserted the GOP to side with her liberal pals in opposing the provision.
Actually, two Republicans senators voted against it: Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder if anybody on the Right has even a basic understanding of how to read a roll call vote.
Then finally, there’s Jay Sekulow, who got this whole thing started in the first place, declaring that he and the ACLJ intend to file suit immediately after President Obama signs it and proclaiming that they intend to spend years fighting it, if necessary:
“Well, not only is it disappointing, it’s almost a throwback to litigation that we conducted in the 1980s that we won unanimously at the Supreme Court,” he says. “And I feel like this particular legislation pokes the finger in the eye of people who take religious faith seriously.
Jay Sekulow (Amer. Ctr. for Law & Policy)”It’s discriminatory in its application, unconstitutional as it’s written, [and] unfortunately it’s going to take four or five years for it to be litigated all the way through,” Sekulow adds.
With passage of the bill with the restrictions in place, how might colleges and universities be affected? “We’re going to look at filing an application for a stay of this provision, trying to get it declared unconstitutional through a restraining order,” he shares.
Sekulow plans to file suit the day after President Obama signs the bill.
Does the ACLJ really intend to file suit and spend years in court based on nothing more than its own intentional misreading of this provision? Sometimes I just have to scratch my head and wonder if this is all a plot to drive me completely insane.