HR-1388 prohibits youth volunteers from religious services and instruction-Truth! But Only While On Duty!
Summary of eRumor:
A forwarded email that says that there is a bill called “Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education” or HR-1388 that prohibits youth volunteers from engaging in religious services and instruction.
HR-1388 was a real bill and was originally called the “Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education” or “GIVE” Act was signed into law by President Obama on April 21, 2009. It is now called “Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.”
Some versions on this eRumor confuse this bill with a Presidential determination to fund emergency relief and migration for Gaza refugees. This was not part of the HR-1388 bill. For findings please click here.
Critics found the wording of a particular section of this bill that prohibits religious practice to be offensive but the bill does not restrict religious practices on off time. It is only while on duty that the volunteers are restricted from such activity. This has no effect on participants in their off time.
The part in question of the original text of the bill was:
SEC. 1304 PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES AND INELIGIBLE ORGANIZATIONS.
SEC. 125. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES AND INELIGIBLE ORGANIZATIONS.
(a) Prohibited Activities- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:
7, “Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.”
The forwarded email is from the blog of Christian author Jonas Clark based in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Clark voiced his concern over the wording in a section which prohibits volunteers from engaging in religious activity. Click for Blog
On April 21, 2009, World Net Daily (WND) reported on this bill saying, “The plan also raises First Amendment issues over its limitations on what various corps participants are allowed to do, ” and stated section 125 of the bill as an example. Click for WND article.
The bill also prohibits participants in the program from other activities such as lobbying, protests, petitions, boycotts or strikes.
In the final text of the bill it now reads, “An approved national service position under this subtitle may not be used for the following
activities.” Click for Bill information