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Senator Jim DeMint Says Stimulus Bill Is 'An Attack On People of Faith'

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," February 5, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, a Senate vote on the stimulus bill could come down tonight, both sides fighting over the spending and the tax cuts. Now there seems to be a battle over something else, religion.

My next guest says that the bill is an attack on people of faith. He's pretty to fix that, the man who has really become like a rock star in this whole process, Jim DeMint, Republican senator from South Carolina.

Senator, good to see you.

SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Neil, I don't feel like a rock star. I feel like I have been hit by a rock.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: I bet. I bet. It goes back and forth here. But what is this religion thing about?

DEMINT: Well, this morning, I went to the National Prayer Breakfast.

Barack Obama spoke about the importance of faith. Tony Blair spoke about the importance of faith. It was a great experience, over 3,000 people from all over the world.

Then, I get back here, and we're working on this so-called stimulus bill that would prohibit any religious activity in any college or university facility that uses any of these funds for modernization or renovation.

It is just a phrase that I think the ACLU had stuck in this bill, because they are the real proponents of keeping it in there, that would really take advantage of religious freedom, Bible studies, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, whether it is on a student center, a dorm, an auditorium where prayer might be offered.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: So, what does it stop? It doesn't allow these areas to be upgraded, renovated, expanded? Am I getting that right, or what?

DEMINT: No.

If they are — if they use these funds to be modernized or renovated, then there can be no prayers, religious activities, no teaching of religious history. So, it discriminates against anyone of faith and would affect the things that are going on now. Just normal meetings by religious groups can no longer be held in a student center, which the Supreme Court has given that right.

But if these funds are used on that student center for renovation, it can't be used. I mean, this doesn't have place in...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: That does not even sound legal. But — but that — that doesn't even sound legal.

DEMINT: No, I don't think it is constitutional. It's not. I don't think it is constitutional.

The — the ACLU is arguing that it is. And they're encouraging all their Democrat friends to vote against my amendment. But I have an amendment to strip it out. It has nothing to do with jobs. It has nothing to do with our economy. It is just an effort to slip one more thing in with a political agenda.

And we are finding these things spread throughout this bill.

CAVUTO: All right, because this one has, like you say, nothing to do with costs and all. It seems like a concerted effort to focus on religion.

So, obviously, it — it was one of these sneaky things they're trying to add in there. What is the prospect of it being sneakily taken out of there, then?

DEMINT: Well, it won't be sneakily taken out, because I am going to have an amendment on the floor. And I'm going to force a vote, so people around the country can see who is really behind this.

The only opposition to my bill so far that I have seen is from — from the ACLU. But this kind of thing would create an opening for so many lawsuits against colleges and universities. And that is the business that the ACLU is in.

CAVUTO: Senator, all right, crazy stuff. I know a lot of amendments are coming fast and furious.

Good seeing you.

DEMINT: Well — well, thank you for helping us keep this process honest.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Man, oh, man. All right, thank you, sir.

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