No Funds for Religion in Public Higher Education

February 4, 2009

Although President Obama intends to continue faith-based social service programs, his administration is quite clear about separating religion from public schools.

            The so-called stimulus package intended to promote economic recovery passed by the Democrats in the House of Representatives last week bans money for school renovation from being spent on facilities that allow religious worship.   Funds may not be used for the “modernization, renovation, or repair” of facilities that allow “sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity.”

            The package passed by the House includes $20 billion for public school infrastructure renovations, of which $6 billion would go to institutions of higher education where the restrictions against divinity schools or departments would apply.

            Conservatives groups are expressing outrage at what they see as curbs on religious liberty in higher learning, but constitutional law experts say conservatives don’t have much legal basis for complaint.   After all, President Obama himself formerly taught constitutional law.

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