Thursday, February 12, 2009

Those Persecuted American Christians

According to Mike Huckabee, that's exactly what the stimulus bill creates.

In a nutshell, he says that the Stimulus package is anti-religious because it prohibits stimulus funds going to "schools and houses of divinity." Because those churches can't survive without the government funding them.

What gets me about this is that the Christianists (to borrow a term from Andrew Sullivan) seem to not understand that it goes both ways - if the government is giving the church money, then the government gets to say how the money is spent. Keeping the money away avoids the threat of excessive government entanglement in the church. The last thing I want is the Federal Government telling me how or when to pray. If I wanted that, I'd move to Iran.

This is really just a nutshell encapsulation. For a better parsing of the situation, I recommend going to DB's post on the topic here.


DB said...

I was reading online this morning that a bunch of banks are trying to return the bailout money because they don't want the government involved in their business...I think it would be wise for religious organizations to understand that concept.

photog said...

I haven't read the stimulus bill to see whether it is correctly characterized by any of the sources DB cites in his article. However, if the stimulus plan "prohibits higher education facilities that accept federal stimulus funds from permitting religious groups and organizations from using those facilities" than it would be an impermissible intrusion on free speech rights.

If a university makes it facilities available to student groups, it becomes a designated public forum. They may make reasonable restrictions on who may use the forum, but not as to content. The UMKC student center meeting rooms found to be a designated public forum in Widmar v Vincent could be restricted in their use to students, but the university could not--the Court said--allow students to meet for academic, social, or political purposes, but not for religious purposes.

DB said...

Givining funding to Universities that make facilities available to student groups is one thing, funding buildings that are used primarily for religious purposes is another. I think that is the distinction here.