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Obama's Stimulus Bill a War on Prayer

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by JBond, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    Obama's Stimulus Bill a War on Prayer

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/02/04/conservative-groups-declare-obamas-stimulus-war-prayer/

    Democrats in Congress have declared war on prayer, say conservative groups who object to a provision in the stimulus bill that was passed by the House of Representatives last week.

    The provision bans money designated for school renovation from being spent on facilities that allow "religious worship." It has ignited a fury among critics who say it violates the First Amendment and is an attempt to prevent religious practice in schools.

    According to the bill, which the Democratic-controlled House passed despite unanimous Republican opposition, funds are prohibited from being used for the "modernization, renovation, or repair" of facilities that allow "sectarian instruction, religious worship or a school or department of divinity."

    Critics say that could include public schools that permit religious groups to meet on campus. The House provided $20 billion for the infrastructure improvements, of which $6 billion would go to higher education facilities where the limitations would be applied.

    "What the government is doing is discriminating against religious viewpoints," said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that works to advance religious freedom.

    "President Obama's version of faith-based initiatives is to remove the faith from initiative," said Staver, who believes Obama has "a completely different view on faith" from what he said during his presidential campaign.

    "He is not the infallible messiah that some thought he would be," Staver said.

    Civil liberty groups like the Americans United for Separation of Church and State vehemently defend the stimulus bill's provision, arguing that it in no way violates the Constitution.

    "This provision upholds constitutional standards established by the U.S. Supreme Court and in no way affects student groups that meet on public school campuses," said the Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

    The American Civil Liberties Union also defends the constitutionality of the restriction, which they say has been the law since 1972.

    "It's almost a restatement of what the Constitution requires so there's nothing novel in what the House did in its restriction," said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel to the ACLU. "For 37 years, the law of the land is that the government can't pay for buildings that are used for religious purposes."

    Not so, says the Traditional Values Coalition, which issued a statement Wednesday charging that Obama is using his stimulus plan to restrict the exercise of religion in public facilities -- a provision it says violates the right to free speech.

    "The economic crisis is being used as a pretext to curb religious liberty at institutions of higher learning," said Executive Director Andrea Lafferty.

    "We are not asking that federal funding be used to construct a church, but if a campus ministry wants to hold a Bible study or Mass in the student activity building, we should be encouraging that -- not punishing a college for permitting it," she said.

    According to some constitutional law experts, any complaint filed against the provision will gain little ground in court.

    "Certainly the provision is treating the act of religious organizations differently from the activities of the school itself," Harvard University constitutional law professor Mark Tushnet told FOXNews.com.

    "It's not frivolous to say there's a constitutional problem with excluding religious facilities from these grants, but I think the way of the law is in the other direction," he said.

    Tushnet cited a 2004 Supreme Court case in which a Washington student lost a college scholarship awarded by the state after it was revealed that he planned to pursue a degree in pastoral ministries. Though the student argued that rescinding the money discriminated on the basis of religion, the court ruled in the state's favor -- declaring that the taxpayer-funded scholarship's restriction is constitutional.

    The White House said Wednesday that it plans to keep in place the basic structure of the faith-based initiative office established by former President George W. Bush.

    Administration officials said the office is a substantial programming and policy arm of the federal government, which allows federal agencies to connect with local neighborhood and faith-based groups to deliver social services.
  2. TheCount

    TheCount Pixel Pusher

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    How much federal funding do private schools usually see?

    I'd assume that schools that have a religious affiliation are by definition, not public schools and thus not federally funded anyway?
  3. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    I thought it said allowed religious worship, which could be public schools too right? and it is saying to public schools that allow religious meetings on their campus.
  4. TheCount

    TheCount Pixel Pusher

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    Yeah, you may be right, but I think the clause is meant to target schools that claim to be public but are still religiously based which basically ends up making them private regardless of what they claim.

    I personally believe religion and education should be separate in public schools, so I'd support that but I'm trying to think back to my public school days and remember if there were any religious clubs or organizations that met after hours in the school and I'm not sure if there were or not.
  5. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    i thought for the most part religion was kept out of the schools? why would a school put up a chapel anyway?
  6. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    There are some Christian Schools that do get a certain amount of money. The way it works is that the Federal Government grants funds to the local Government to be distributed to Educational Programs as they see fit. I mean, it would make sense that Christian Schools also get funded as they must also adhere to Public School directives such as lunch programs, testing etc.
  7. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    i went to a private catholic school through 5th grade. no idea if any was gov funded but i do know my parents paid tuition.
  8. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    I think some feel like you do, tho most are younger, but thats just what i see personally. I feel tho some are trying to inflict that they want their child to pray OR not have to hear others pray because it offends them. I have actually heard that arguement from people. So its going to be a heck of a firestorm either way. Youth vs old, tradition vs new ways, and people with to much time on their hands.
  9. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes you do pay tuition but they are still required to Test to the national levels etc. Things like that, lunch programs, certain areas where the schools file for State Money that comes from Federal funding is, I believe, what is in question.
  10. Temo

    Temo Active Member

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    Here's what I want to know: why do the people who write these article always quote pieces of sentences from the legislation but never actually link to the actual documents? Do they think we can't read for ourselves?

    I say this because there's a clear ambiguity here. Does the language exclude all schools that have any religious buildings from getting funds? Or only that funds given to schools cannot be spent on regligious buildings?

    Because I think most of us can agree that taxpayer money should not be spent to build chapels, churches, synagogues, whatever. But even as a non-christian, I don't see why the the United States Naval Academy wouldn't be able to get money for other stuff just because they happen to have a chapel.

    Anyway, reading the actual legislation would be nice, instead having pieces of it quoted and dissected. Anyone have a link?
  11. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    gotcha.
  12. Aikbach

    Aikbach Well-Known Member

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    It would effect the military academies and any high school that permits Fellowship for Christian Athletes or rents out auditoriums and cafeterias to church services on Sunday, its a really irresponsible item to try and legislate.
  13. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    k - keep it coming - i'm asking to understand the goal here and how it fits in life. :)
  14. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    My college, Seton Hall, had a chapel on campus that held services every day. Many college campuses have chapels or churches. Those colleges that hold services would no longer be eligible for grants for research or bailout money.
  15. ThaBigP

    ThaBigP New Member

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    Uh, this isn't about schools that have "We Pray to God Almighty High School" on the door and Jesus as the mascot...

    This is about schools who allow religious groups to have events on school grounds. Such as the Boy Scouts...who have been deemed to be a "religious" organization owing to their exclusion of homosexuals and promotion of Christian values.

    Or any other group that might wind up in the category of "undesirables" who have any resemblence whatsoever to religious devotion. AA anybody?
  16. TheCount

    TheCount Pixel Pusher

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    I don't think anyone really knows what it's about just yet, no one has read the whole thing.
  17. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

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    The FCA was my first thought upon perusing the article. My high school was host to a number of FCA events.

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