While members of her own party seem skeptical about the inflation-inducing cost of President Joe Biden’s social spending bill, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has announced that the “Build Back Better” act snagged a huge endorsement: the Son of God. At an October 20 rally, Pelosi said that our Lord Jesus Christ practically demanded that the United States enact a universal pre-K program:
Christ said, “Suffer little children to come unto [M]e.” All children – all children in our country are about our country’s future. And we want to make sure that all children have the opportunity that they deserve. They’re all blessings containing their spark of divinity.
Pelosi did not explain how her remarks align with indefatigable advocacy of abortion-on-demand until birth, which she has called “sacred ground.” Nor does the biblical passage she quoted have anything to do with government acting as the whole nation’s childcare provider. But there’s a larger contradiction, which carries weightier consequences for Americans if the president’s top legislative item passes: The Build Back Better act wages war on the very place millions of American children would hear Jesus’ words — religious daycare centers — preventing them from modeling their religion’s teachings about transgenderism and sex.
Congressional Democrats have touted the approximately $400 billion of funding the Build Back Better act dedicates to universal pre-K. The BBB establishes an Obamacare-style program of subsidies for childcare for six years, with states left holding the bag for the unfunded mandate at the end of that time. Taxpayers would pick up the daycare tab for parents making less than 75% of the state’s median income — and keep paying for families making up to $300,000 a year. Recipients would not spend more than 7% of their income on childcare. The bill also saddles daycare providers with onerous new restrictions, including hefty minimum salaries.
Proponents point out that the bill explicitly allows religious daycares to receive federal funding. “Nothing in this section shall preclude the use of such certificates for sectarian [e.g., religious] childcare services if freely chosen by the parent,” the bill says. But two of the least-discussed provisions of the bill would squeeze out faithful Christian and Jewish daycare providers from the market in favor of government-controlled (or government-obedient) childcare centers.
Much of the opposition has focused on the less important of these two provisions: The bill could be interpreted as excluding religious facilities from receiving federal funds. “Eligible child care providers may not use funds for buildings or facilities that are used primarily for sectarian instruction or religious worship,” it says. The ambiguous wording leaves the law’s impact open to legal interpretation. But the Supreme Court has already ruled that excluding a church “from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution” in 2017 (Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia Inc. v. Comer).
The real constitutional conundrum is not that religious childcare centers will not receive federal funding but that they will — and that government funds come with strings that would require believers to act against their faith’s traditional moral teachings. Provisions of the Build Back Better act could require religious or church-run daycares to hire transgender or LGBT teachers. In fact, it seems Democratic lawmakers deliberately structured the bill to force this choice on churches.
Let’s connect the dots.
Low-income parents already receive federal childcare vouchers under the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). Since the federal government considers the primary recipients of these vouchers to be the parents, not the facilities, the laws “allow funds to follow the child to any participating child care provider the parent selects, including faith-based providers.”
The Build Back Better Act changes all that. The BBB, in a clause added by Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-VA), would designate childcare funds as “federal financial assistance” — meaning that church- or synagogue-run daycares would have to abide by federal “nondiscrimination” policies in hiring. These include the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Title IX. Although neither law contains a word to that effect, the Supreme Court and the Biden administration have interpreted the laws as meaning that employers cannot refuse to hire homosexual or transgender employees.
The U.S. Department of Labor specifies:
Programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance must comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities; and the Age Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of age. Education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance also must comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex. (Emphasis added.)
The Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County (2020) states that no one subject to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act can fire (or refuse to hire) “an individual for being homosexual or transgender.”
Furthermore, on May 10 Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, announced that the federal government would interpret “Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and discrimination on the basis of gender identity.” The Obama-Biden administration similarly inserted LGBTQIA+ status into bills where the inclusion had never been contemplated, and tried to force its will on churches.
So, the BBB would subject churches — which have taught for 2,000 years that there are only two biologically determined genders and that sex outside of marriage between one man and one woman is sinful — to the Biden administration’s (im)moral views. They would have to choose between living their faith and receiving federal funding.
The bill constitutes “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 array of issues, most importantly summarized as LGBTQ,” said Albert Mohler Jr. president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “[W]hen the federal government involves itself in funding, eventually it will seek to control.”
Organizations representing Roman Catholics and Orthodox Jews — the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Orthodox Union — have made their objections known. The BBB’s language “will be detrimental to our ability to participate” and will “impact our ability to stick with our Catholic mission in a variety of ways,” Jennifer Daniels, associate director for public policy at the USCCB, told The New York Times. Nathan J. Diament, the public policy director at the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, agreed that “the way the bill text is drafted, there are details that will deter, if not make it impossible for, faith-based providers to participate.”
So far, there is no evidence that the Catholic bishops’ pleas have made a dent on “devout” Catholic Joe Biden.
“Democrats are ending decades-old, bipartisan protections for religious preschools and child care centers that will pressure facilities to choose between federal funding and their faith,” said Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR). “The Democrats are struggling to pass President Biden’s signature legislation. But instead of backing down and compromising, Democrats are making the bill even worse to appeal to their radical base. It won’t work.”
Democrats are ending decades-old, bipartisan protections for religious preschools and child care centers that will pressure facilities to choose between federal funding and their faith.
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) November 3, 2021
A war on church social agencies is a war on America. As in every other area of social help, churches have led the way in childcare since the foundation of our republic. “Researchers note the earliest evidence of faith-based child care is a nursery founded in 1789 by the Quaker-supported Philadelphia House of Industry,” noted a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center. The center found that a majority (53%) of American families where all parents work entrust their children to religious daycares.
“The Build Back Better Act eclipses the family, churches and communities, leaving us all beholden to big government,” wrote Penny Young Nance, president of Concerned Women for America. “Federal bureaucrats will surely claim the right to approve curricula, performance standards, and more – all decisions best left in the hands of parents and local communities.”
It’s bad enough that too few Americans seem concerned whether the federal government should take upon itself the blatantly unconstitutional role of paying for childcare. It’s worse that even fewer bat an eye when the government takes it upon itself to dictate the terms of children’s upbringing like an omniscient Big Mother. In this case, Big Mother government uses the power of federal funding to force its immoral views on holy mother, the Church.
“The current language in the ‘Build Back Better’ bill seems to go out of its way to marginalize religious organizations,” said Stanley Carlson-Thies, founder and senior director of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance. “That’s a terrible precedent to establish.”
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.