The last time we wrote about this impending disaster in Florida was Florida Theocracy Amendment Kicked Off Ballot. All the background information is there, but we must repeat this:
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.
The news in our last post was that a judge had ruled the ballot description for the proposed state constitutional amendment was misleading. But a new Florida law allows the state’s Attorney General to salvage the situation by re-writing the ballot description. And that brings you up to date.
Today, at the website of the Miami Herald we read: Bondi tweaks language for repeal of Blaine Amendment on 2012 ballot. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
As expected, Attorney General Pam Bondi submitted revised language for Amendment 7, a repeal a long-standing ban on taxpayer money for religious organizations, after Circuit Judge Terry Lewis struck it from the ballot last week.
They give a link to Bondi’s revised language: Pam Bondi’s Revised Ballot Description, and here’s what she proposes for the new ballot description:
On December 13, 2011, the trial judge … held that the ballot statement corresponding to the legislatively proposed constitutional amendment entitled “Religious Freedom” (Amendment 7) is ambiguous and misleading … .
I have prepared and hereby submit to the Department of State the following revised ballot statement …:
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM — Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution providing that no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding, or other support, except as required by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and deleting the prohibition against using revenues from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.
Your Curmudgeon labels that intentionally misleading, and because Pam Bondi knows what she’s doing, we now label her the Slime Queen of Florida.
Why is the Slime Queen’s new ballot description misleading? For one thing, it starts out, in all caps, titling the thing “RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.” That’s a flat-out lie, and it’s probably as far as the typical voter will read before unthinkingly voting to approve this tyrannical measure. It’s not religious freedom if the taxpayers of the state are going to be fleeced for money that will go — in Pam’s words — “from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination.”
Another reason it’s misleading is that the most important part of the proposed amendment — the repeal of the long-standing Blaine provision — is buried at the end of her proposed description, and few voters will read that far.
Here’s the Slime Queen’s description of her handiwork, as quoted by the Miami Herald:
“Voters deserve an opportunity to decide whether to remove from Florida’s constitution a provision that discriminates against religious institutions,” Bondi said in a statement.
So there you are. We hope the parties that challenged the last ballot description will also challenge the new one. As we said earlier, a truly accurate ballot description would say: “Beware! This amendment lets churches (and mosques and Hare Krishna groups, etc.) raid the state treasury!”
Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.