Florida Theocracy Amendment Gets Support

There hasn’t been any news about the nightmarish constitutional amendment on the ballot in Florida. Our last post about it was Florida’s Theocracy Amendment: More Fraud. The amendment had survived a court challenge, due to some slippery tactics.

If you’re not familiar with the amendment, the next few indented paragraphs provide background information, which most of you can skip:

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:

[Existing provision to be removed:] 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:

[Replacement provision:] 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.

It’s difficult to predict the damage that will result if the proposed amendment is adopted. Preacher-lobbyists will flock to Tallahassee to get their share of the citizens’ tax money. Weak-willed legislators will be bullied into handing out cash to every church group that demands it.

If the amendment’s new language were so important that it had to be included in the state’s Constitution, it could have been added without removing the Blaine language. But the fluffy new language is just a pretext for the amendment’s true purpose — removing the ban on giving taxpayers’ money to religious institutions.

Florida voters will find this mess on their ballots in November, as “Amendment 8,” and it will be misleadingly titled “Religious Freedom.” The typical voter will think “That sounds nice,” and the thing will probably pass.

News about this treasury raid has been scarce, but today, in the St. Augustine Record we read Group formed to push religion amendment. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Former state Rep. Juan Zapata on Thursday announced the “Yes on 8 Campaign” would work for passage of the proposed state constitutional amendment.

Isn’t that lovely? Hey, Florida voters: Juan Zapata wants his church to raid your wallet! Let’s read on:

The Miami Republican is president Citizens for Religious Freedom and Non-Discrimination.

That impressive-sounding organization has no website, but it’s a great name! Juan wants the “freedom” to tax you, not only for his church, but for every other church, mosque, and voodoo sect in the state. There’s nothing to worry about, however — it’ll be non-discriminatory.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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2 responses to “Florida Theocracy Amendment Gets Support

  1. The scientologists have that big center in Clearwater. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out with them. If there’s one thing fundies seem to hate more than secular government, its watching some other religion take advantage of a situation they thought would benefit Christianity.

  2. Ceteris Paribus

    The amendment an individual may freely choose “[t]o use his or her program benefits at a religious provider.”

    What is wrong with that statement is that constitutionally mandated functions of government such as a state militia, justice system, or public school system are not “benefits”. They are duties.

    “Benefits” as a weasel word in the Florida case is as onerous as had the framers of the US constitution used the word “tolerance” in the context of religion. What they did do is make religious liberty a guaranteed right, rather than some kind of “benefit” that a majority could vote on to grant or take away at their whim.

    But most theocrats think that majority rule, as guided by their scriptures, is the basis of government.