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?