(i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or school department of divinity; or (ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission.With this qualification in mind, a new line of attack started last week when Mike Huckabee charged that the package is anti-religious:
The dust is settling on the ‘bipartisan’ stimulus bill and one thing is clear: It is anti-religious.To which the Christian Coalition jumped in:
It is beyond belief that a large number of Democrat [sic] members of Congress are absolutely intent on satisfying the anti-Christian whims of their left-wing supporters and passing legislation putting Christians and other people of faith at an exterme [sic] disadvantage in America.And today, one group, American Issues Project, created a new television ad opposing the stimulus by invoking images of Jesus. Saith the ad:
"Suppose you spent $1 million every single day starting from the day Jesus was born — and kept spending through today,” says the announcer as an image of the three wise men flashes on the screen. “A million dollars a day for more than 2,000 years. You would still have spent less money than Congress just did."But, as Christianity Today states, this legislative language is normative:
However, the language in the stimulus bill is neither new nor unusual, since restrictions have been part of federal higher education policy for over 40 years. Rather than inhibit religion, these restrictions make possible federal funding to religious colleges and universities.Faith in Public Life agrees:
Funding of higher education is, in some sense, our largest faith-based initiative. And like other faith-based initiatives, what allows the government to support education at religious colleges and universities is the necessary caveat that the federal funding be used for religiously neutral purposes. Far from being "anti-religious," the restrictions in the stimulus bill are the same old prohibitions that have allowed the federal government to help religious colleges and universities educate students for the past 40 years.
This is standard practice, not some assault on Christianity. Also, it's standard practice that sensibly rooted in our Constitution, which protects against the establishment of religion (which some people seem to forget). Church/state balance is a tricky thing-- as shown by numerous court cases and the controversy over the faith-based initiatives office-- but the ban on direct government funding for something used for sectarian, religious purposes is, to put it bluntly, a no-brainer.Bottom line, the stimulus package is NOT anti-religious.