Florida Theocracy Amendment Kicked Off Ballot

At times we’ve felt we were virtually alone in warning about a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution that would literally repeal separation of church and state. See Florida’s Theocratic Constitutional Amendment, #7, but today there’s good news to report. First, however, here’s a bit of background information which most of you can skip:

A proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution will be on the ballot for the 06 November 2012 general election. Sixty percent voter approval is required for adoption. If adopted by the voters, the amendment will take effect on 04 January 2013.

The proposed amendment would remove language from the state Constitution (the so-called “Blaine Amendment”) that prohibits state funding of religious organizations. That language (which is found in 37 state constitutions) is now the last sentence of Article I, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. It currently says:

No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.

The new amendment to the Constitution removes what we quoted above and replaces it with this:

An individual may not be barred from participating in any public program because that individual has freely chosen to use his or her program benefits at a religious provider.

That new language is non-threateningly vague, and it actually sounds nice, but non-discrimination is already the law so a constitutional amendment isn’t needed for that. The important thing is what the new provision replaces. Removing the current restriction on state funding could be catastrophic — for those who think churches shouldn’t be forcibly subsidized by taxpayers.

Historical information going back to the Grant administration can be found in the House’s Staff Analysis for the Judiciary Committee dated 15 April. It’s a very informative 7-page pdf file.

That’s what the maniacal theocrats slipped onto the Florida ballot, and it’s been virtually ignored by the press. But today we read this in the Palm Beach Post: Fla. judge knocks religious funding question off ballot; attorney general could put it back on. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

A Leon County judge Wednesday knocked a proposed constitutional amendment off the November ballot that was aimed at lifting a 126-year ban on state money going to religious institutions.

The amendment’s description on the ballot had been challenged as misleading, on the grounds that it doesn’t explain the true effect of what it’s all about. Apparently, the judge agrees. The story continues:

But Circuit Judge Terry Lewis’ decision won’t be the last word. Under a new law approved last spring, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi now has 10 days to rewrite the ballot proposal. Some version of the “Religious Freedom” measure could still go before statewide voters.

That should be interesting. A truly accurate ballot description would say: “Beware! This amendment lets churches (and mosques and Hare Krishna groups, etc.) raid the state treasury!” Let’s read on:

“The good news is that the attorney general can work on what the judge sees as problems,” said Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, who sponsored the legislation. “Voters will finally get a chance to remove discriminatory language from our constitution.”

Yeah, “discriminatory language.” Plakon is the theocratic madman who’s responsible for the proposed amendment, and he’s still lying about its purpose — like all the amendment’s supporters.

The article in the Palm Beach Post is a long one. It discusses the parties to this litigation, and the new law in Florida that lets the state Attorney General rewrite ballot descriptions in cases such as this. It’s more detail than we need to post about, but if you’re interested, click over there.

We have no idea how things will turn out, but for the moment the news is good.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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One response to “Florida Theocracy Amendment Kicked Off Ballot

  1. It appears to me that an argument can be made that religious organizations are ALREADY receiving aid from governments in the form of tax exemptions. There shouldn’t be any exemptions. Many of these outfits do little more than spread bigotry, hatred, and ignorance. I certainly don’t want any of MY tax dollars going to them.