To hear the Biden administration talk about it, there’s something for literally everybody in the 2,000-plus pages of the $1.8 trillion Build Back Better spending packages. After all, you’ll get tax breaks if you want to buy an electric bike, and there will be federal money available to you if you work as a doula, as my PJ Media colleague Rick Moran pointed out recently.
But there’s one group that won’t benefit from the largesse that Build Back Better offers if the bill passes as-is: child care facilities affiliated with religious institutions.
The New York Times is reporting that lobbyists are trying to talk Congress into stripping a provision from Build Back Better that would prevent religious preschools and child care centers from receiving their share of the gargantuan funds.
The provision at issue is a standard one in many federal laws, which would mandate that all providers comply with federal nondiscrimination statutes. Religious organizations, whose child care programs are currently exempt from some such laws, argue that it would effectively block many of their providers from participating, while civil rights advocates contend it is long past time for such institutions to comply.
Some of the faith groups are pressing lawmakers to scrap or modify the nondiscrimination language, asserting that it would essentially shut them out of the new federal program unless they made major changes to the way they operate. For instance, it could bar federal funds from going to programs that refused to hire a gay employee, gave preference to applicants of their faith or failed to renovate their facilities to accommodate disabled students.
According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, about 53% of families with children in preschool or daycare enroll their kids in religious-affiliated facilities, so you can see the problem here: for all that the Biden administration and congressional Democrats have promised to families of kids in childcare, over half won’t benefit one bit.
The NYT reports that while reliable Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) wants to include faith-based childcare centers in the legislation, House Democrats unsurprisingly want to leave out “any organization that discriminates.”
The Times details what’s at stake:
The bill would provide nearly $400 billion to help states build universal prekindergarten and affordable child care programs over six years. It is intended to ensure that the vast majority of families — those with four-person households earning up to $300,000 — spend no more than 7 percent of their income on child care. Families that earn under 75 percent of the state’s median income would pay nothing.
It explicitly includes religious organizations.
“Nothing in this section shall preclude the use of such certificates for sectarian child care services if freely chosen by the parent,” it says. “For the purposes of this section, child care certificates shall be considered federal financial assistance to the provider.”
Democrats in both legislative chambers are at loggerheads over including or excluding religious centers. But the fight also marks another point of contention between religious liberty and anti-discrimination laws. And naturally, many Democrats would opt for squashing religious liberty over offending or excluding a much smaller minority.
Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, addressed this provision in Build Back Better on his podcast on Wednesday. He stated that the attempt to exclude religious schools from receiving federal funds is part of what he calls the left’s “moral revolution.”
As we have seen, the setup in our entire cultural moment is for the moral revolution to win at the expense of religious liberty. And what that means, of course, is that the newly invented artificial rights of the sexual revolution are threatening to take the place, indeed to displace, the actual recognition and respect for religious liberty that is demanded by the United States Constitution.
Now when you look at this you would say, “Well, this can’t be entirely new, because we’re looking at the fact that the government has been involved in funding many of these programs before.” But as this [ New York Times] article makes clear, what has been hidden in the giant social spending bill proposed by the Biden administration is language that would change the rules.
According to Mohler, this is completely intentional, something the left has wanted all along.
The most substantive change might not have been recognized at first. It’s a change from funding these programs through block grants given to the states to changing the situation to direct funding by federal programs.
Now, here’s the big difference: there have been organizations, even ministries, Christian organizations, that had participated in those programs through funding by the block grants. That meant that they did not come directly under the non-discrimination provisions declared by the federal government.
But the change proposed here is not accidental; it’s very intentional. It’s an intentional effort, and it’s being demanded by some on the political left — an intentional effort to bring all of these programs under the moral revolution mandated by the federal government. And that means that religious institutions and religious organizations would not be able to operate these schools in a way consistent with their own beliefs, especially when it comes to the gender and sexual morality revolution the entire ray of issues most importantly summarized as LGBTQ.
He has a valid point. We’ve moved past “bake the cake, bigot” to “we’re going to withhold federal funds from you unless you play by all of our rules, bigot.”
The left has made the LGBTQ agenda a sacred cow, and as a result, they’ve doubled down on promoting it through culture, higher education, and K-12 schools. Now they want to use the power and purse strings of the federal government to ensure that they can push their sexual agenda to American preschoolers.
If First Amendment protected religious liberty gets in the way of that agenda, they will restrict it. This is one of many reasons why Build Back Better must be stopped.