Build Back Better Shouldn’t Withhold Money from Religious Schools

Dec. 29 2021

Included in the White House’s Build Back Better bill—currently on life support, but possibly to be revised and revived—is funding for preschools and daycare centers, both for renovations and to help parents cover tuition costs. As written, the bill would limit the ability of schools affiliated with religious institutions to receive these monies. Mitchell Rocklin and Howard Slugh argue that such limitations are discriminatory and ill-conceived:

Several provisions of the bill as currently drafted would prevent religious schools from receiving benefits. For example, . . . something as simple as celebrating Jewish holidays might result in a school’s complete exclusion. . . . One section makes childcare providers located in houses of worship ineligible for grants aimed at renovating their facilities. A second provision prohibits funds from being used to renovate facilities “in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission.” At the very least, this would exclude any childcare program housed in a synagogue, mosque, or church.

The First Amendment does not require the government to discriminate against religious people or to treat them like second-class citizens. . . . The Constitution does not give the government license to exclude religious people from generally available benefits because of their faith—in fact, it prohibits such discrimination.

The Supreme Court dealt with a similar issue in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer. The plaintiff, a preschool located on the premises of Trinity Lutheran Church, applied to a Missouri program that offered grants to help make playgrounds safer for children. The state determined that the school qualified for the program. In fact, it decided that the school was one of the most deserving recipients in the state. Unfortunately, however, the state denied the school’s application because it refused to allow schools located in churches to participate.

Missouri claimed that it could exclude the school in order to maintain a separation between church and state. The Supreme Court rejected this argument.

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Read more at Jewish Link

More about: American law, Freedom of Religion, Supreme Court, U.S. Constitution

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter