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Jan 16 2014

Religion-related Provisions in Budget Bill

As Howard Friedman details, the huge budget appropriations bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, has emerged from the joint House-Senate conference committee and there are several provisions in it related to religious questions. Some of them are really kind of weird.

(Pg. 181) None of the funds made available to the Department of Justice in this Act may be used to discriminate against or denigrate the religious or moral beliefs of students who participate in programs for which financial assistance is provided from those funds, or of the parents or legal guardians of such students.

No idea what that might refer to. I suspect some wingnut legislator got all fired up over some imaginary story of faux persecution and decided to insert this pointless language into the bill.

(Pg. 565 and Pg. 1575) (a) None of the funds made available in this or any other Act may be obligated or expended for any employee training that— …(4) contains any methods or content associated with religious or quasi-religious belief systems or ‘‘new age’’ belief systems as defined in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Notice N–25 915.022, dated September 2, 1988; or (5) is offensive to, or designed to change, participants’ personal values or lifestyle outside the workplace.

So I looked up information on that EEOC memo. Apparently in 1988, someone got all fired up about government employees going to training seminars that included discussion of meditation and similar things and decided to pass a law against the inclusion of “new age” beliefs in such seminars.

(Pg. 1200). Funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs, under the heading ‘‘Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance’’ may be obligated for the relocation of the United States Embassy to the Holy See only if the Secretary of State reports in writing to the Committees on Appropriations that— (A) the United States Ambassador to the Holy See and embassy staff will retain their independence from other United States missions located in Rome, including by maintaining a separate building with a discrete address and entrance; and (B) any relocation of the chancery will not increase annual operating costs, will not result in a reduction in staff, and will enhance overall security for the United States Embassy to the Holy See.

Yep, another item inserted by some wingnut legislator who got his panties all bunched up over a fake story. I wonder how much of our federal legislation is the result of such overreactions?

9 comments

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  1. 1
    raven

    is offensive to, or designed to change, participants’ personal values or lifestyle outside the workplace.

    I, and many or most Americans find xians, xianity, fundies, gay haters, Moslem haters, right wingnuts, science haters, racists, the Tea Party/GOP and so on, OFFENSIVE!!!

    All that should be kept out of the workplace and where it belongs. In your garage, closet, or backyard at night.

    …contains any methods or content associated with religious or quasi-religious belief systems…

    I don’t have too much of a problem with that. It keeps Oogedy Boogedy fundie xianity out of the workplace. It is however redundant. Due to laws and separation of church and state, it was already illegal in the government workplaces.

    Which means James Watts would have been fired. He was the Interior secretary who said we didn’t have to take care of the environment because jesus is coming Real Soon. He was fired but for being a racist and idiot.

  2. 2
    raven

    is offensive to, or designed to change, participants’ personal values or lifestyle outside the workplace.

    That would cover the pledge of allegiance. Tens of millions object to the under god phrase.

    OTOH, it is already illegal to make someone say the pledge.

  3. 3
    Reginald Selkirk

    Apparently in 1988, someone got all fired up about government employees going to training seminars that included discussion of meditation and similar things and decided to pass a law against the inclusion of “new age” beliefs in such seminars.

    Fine. They should also exclude “old age” beliefs as well.

  4. 4
    Kaintukee Bob

    @Reginald #3: It should be illegal for government employees at training seminars to yell at kids to get off of the lawn?

  5. 5
    Chiroptera

    No idea what that might refer to. I suspect some wingnut legislator got all fired up over some imaginary story of faux persecution and decided to insert this pointless language into the bill.

    If I was forced to make a wild guess, I’d probably say that some Christofascist was bullying a gay colleague and was told to knock it the fuck off. The Christofascists have a weird idea of “religious freeedom.”

  6. 6
    Pierce R. Butler

    … is offensive to, or designed to change, participants’ personal values or lifestyle outside the workplace.

    So government employees can no longer receive programs to quit smoking, reduce drinking, lose weight, manage anger, or budget their spending?

  7. 7
    peterh

    “…Ambassador to the Holy See and embassy staff will retain their independence from other United States missions located in Rome…”

    It would appear someone in Kongers is dim enough in the dome not to realize the Vatican and Rome are, politically, two different places.

  8. 8
    matty1

    @7 True but because of the size of the Vatican all embassies to it are located in the city of Rome not the Vatican State. As I recall the issue here was prompted by the US embassy to the Vatican relocating to a larger building, which happens to be next to the US embassy to Italy prompting claims the two were merging.

  9. 9
    howardhershey

    “Apparently in 1988, someone got all fired up about government employees going to training seminars that included discussion of meditation and similar things…”

    And here I thought that “meditation” was a pretty common activity among the early saints and martyrs? Or is it only valid meditation if you meditate on Jesus rather than learn it from a different religious or non-religious perspective? Curious minds want to know.

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