February 5, 2009 - WASHINGTON, D.C. - ***CLICK HERE to see how senators voted***
Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) made the following statement after Democrats voted 43-54 against his amendment to strike language from the economic stimulus bill that discriminates against students of faith. Senator DeMint’s amendment would have eliminated a provision that bans any university or college receiving funds to renovate buildings, from allowing “sectarian instruction” or “religious worship” within the facility. This would in effect bar use of campus buildings for groups like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ, Catholic Student Ministries, Hillel, and other religious organizations.
“This is a direct attack on students of faith, and I’m outraged Democrats are using an economic stimulus bill to promote discrimination,”said Senator DeMint.
“Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for siding with the ACLU over millions of students of faith. These students simply want equal access to public facilities, which is their constitutional right. This hostility toward religion must end. Those who voted to for this discrimination are standing in the schoolhouse door to deny people of faith from entering any campus building renovated by this bill. “This is now an ACLU stimulus designed to trigger lawsuits designed to intimidate religious organizations across the nation. This language is so vague, it’s not clear if students can even pray in a dorm room renovated with this funding since that is a form of ‘religious worship.’ If this provision remains in the bill, it will have a chilling effect on students of faith in America. “It is in hard times that our society most needs faith. It provides the light that no darkness can overcome. This provision is an attempt to extinguish that light from college campuses, from the lives of our youth. “In the words of President Obama today, ‘Faith can promote a greater good for all of us.’ Our varied beliefs can bring us together and rebuild what is broken. It lifts those who have fallen on hard times. Our culture cannot survive without faith and our nation cannot survive without freedom. This provision is an assault against both. It's un-American and it's unconstitutional. Intolerant and it's intolerable.”This funding restriction is unconstitutional. In the 2001 Good News Club v. Milford Central School Supreme Court decision, the court ruled that restricting religious speech within the context of public shared-use facilities (or schools) is unconstitutional. Pages 164-165 of the stimulus contain the following prohibitions on the use of $3.5 billion available for renovation of public or private college and university facilities.
(2) PROHIBITED USES OF FUNDS.—No funds awarded under this section may be used for— (C) 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; or construction of new facilities.