08/11/2021 United States (International Christian Concern) – Infrastructure and religious freedom are two things not often heard in the same sentence, unless both are addressed in a bill making its way through the United States Senate. For some, the current infrastructure bill represents much-needed funding for America’s crumbling infrastructure, while others see possible threats to one of America’s most cherished freedoms.
Here is the connection: among the bill’s hundreds of pages in a section establishing a program of grants to expand internet access, there is a provision requiring companies that hope to receive funding to comply with the various anti-discrimination protections.
The language specifically reads, “No individual in the United States may on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age or disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits, of or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that is funded in whole or in part with funds made available to carry out this title.”
By specifically protecting sexual orientation and gender identity, the bill has entered the heated climate of the culture war in the United States. This language makes it extremely difficult for organizations that adhere to traditional religious values to take part in the program, including conservative Christian and Muslim organizations. Several Republican lawmakers raised these concerns during a press conference and moved to not support the bill.
The final vote was 69-30 in favor of the bill, which will now move to the House of Representatives and finally to the desk of President Biden. The bill’s passage through the Senate brings to the surface the ongoing difficult cultural and religious freedom landscape that more and more defines American domestic political discourse.
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