Thursday, April 30, 2009

Will HR-1388 begin the erosion of religious liberties?

The following is an excerpt from HR 1388, a bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama to institute mandatory volunteerism for students who are receiving government education loans. Note the activities and organizations that students would not be allowed to participate in.


Subtitle C of title I (42 U.S.C. 12571 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 132 the following:


'(a) Prohibited Activities- An approved national service position under this subtitle may not be used for the following activities:

'(1) Attempting to influence legislation.

'(2) Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.

'(3) Assisting, promoting, or deterring union organizing.

'(4) Impairing existing contracts for services or collective bargaining agreements.

'(5) Engaging in partisan political activities, or other activities designed to influence the outcome of an election to Federal office or the outcome of an election to a State or local public office.

'(6) Participating in, or endorsing, events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation, or elected officials.

'(7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of proselytization, consistent with section 132.

'(8) Consistent with section 132, providing a direct benefit to any--

'(A) business organized for profit;

'(B) labor union;

'(C) partisan political organization;

'(D) nonprofit organization that fails to comply with the restrictions contained in section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, except that nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to prevent participants from engaging in advocacy activities undertaken at their own initiative; and

'(E) organization engaged in the religious activities described in paragraph (7), unless the position is not used to support those religious activities.

'(9) Providing abortion services or referrals for receipt of such services.

'(10) Conducting a voter registration drive or using Corporation funds to conduct a voter registration drive.

'(11) Carrying out such other activities as the Corporation may prohibit.

The entire text of the bill is here:


Alan Rogers said...

Restriction of religious liberties? Not exactly, Van.
All it means is that religion cannot be promoted with the use of public funds. They also don't allow promotion of abortion under this bill.
It all sounds good to me!

Fr Van McCalister said...

I posed it as a question because I think this and related legislation should be watched by those of us who believe that Jefferson's statement in a letter to a Baptist minister that he was concerned about maintaining a separation between church and state was offered as his desire to protect religious liberties. The idea that religious service and worship is incompatible with civil service would have been a foreign concept to the Founding Fathers.

My understanding is that this bill puts in place the authorization to form a committee that will produce the final form of this legislation. So, I am suggesting we continue to watch it carefully.

I too was pleased to see that it was not to be used to promote abortions. That's why I copied so much of that section.