Stimulus Plan Excludes Religious Schools

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President Obama's stimulus bill contains a little-noticed provision that would prevent Christian colleges and universities from using stimulus money for religious purposes, like upgrading facilities for religious instruction or worship.

Click play for more with CBN News reporter Efrem Graham and an interview with Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law & Justice. 

The controversial section of the bill, which is identical in both the House and Senate versions, 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 the "modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities-- used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission."

Under this provision, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, student groups would be barred from using facilities for worship or even Bible study if the school accepts the federal stimulus funds.

"This Is An Attack On People Of Faith"

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., told CBN News that the provision allows organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union a loophole to take action against religious schools.

"Democrats are looking for every opportunity to purge faith and prayer from the public square," DeMint told CBN News White House Correspondent David Brody.

"This will empower the ACLU with ambiguous laws that create liability for schools, universities, and student organizations.  This is an attack on people of faith and I don't think Americans will stand for it," he explained.

Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel for the ACLJ says the provision "clearly discriminates against religious organizations that have a legal right to use these facilities."

Sekulow says if the provision isn't removed, the ACLJ will challenge it in federal court.

"There is a priority problem in Washington," Sekulow said. "We're seeing a troubling pattern develop regarding the use of federal taxpayer dollars"

"This provision regarding the use of college and university facilities is just the latest example. This is not what 'economic stimulus' is about," he added. "We know that the American people don't want their tax dollars used for discriminatory measures. That's why this provision must be removed now."

The House and Senate versions of the bill both include the same language. The House passed the first version last week, while the Senate will vote on their version in the next couple of days.

Sources: CBN News, Business and Media Institute, ACLJ

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