Lawyer Says Stimulus Plan Discriminates Against Religion

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

One of the nation’s top Christian lawyers says a provision in President Obama’s economic stimulus plan discriminates against religious activity.

Attorney Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) announced on Tuesday that he found a provision in Section 803 of the bill containing language that would prohibit universities that accept funding for renovations from allowing religious activities to take place at those facilities.

According to the ACLJ, 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.” 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.” Check the website for more information.

“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.

Sekulow 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.

The ACLJ said its teams are continuing to look into the issue.

Thus far, the President’s embattled stimulus plan has passed the House – without a single Republican vote -and is currently under debate in the Senate. Obama has said he wants to sign the bill by President’s Day.

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