by Chris Haire
The ACLU has hijacked the stimulus bill, or at least that's what Sen. Jim DeMint seems to be claiming in an interview with the right wing outlet World Net Daily. And apparently the ACLU wants to make it against the law for schools receiving stimulus money to allow religious activities to take place in any building which has been either renovated or built using those funds. Of course, he's wrong, but we'll get to that in a minute. (DeMint also had an interview with Fox News.)
Here's what Jim had to say to World Net Daily:
The senator said the stimulus bill now becomes an "ACLU stimulus" that has the goal of triggering 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," he said.
As for what's going on — and why DeMint is apparently hellbent on appealing to the religious right (he is from Bob Jones land after all), Republicans for Obama have an answer and they found it at Washington Monthly:
"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. [...]
"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."