Across Florida
What's happening on other political blogs?


Senate moves to end separation of church and state

by Dara Kam | April 13th, 2010

The separation of church and state has been in Florida’s constitution for more than a century.

But that might this fall under a proposal approved by a Senate committee this morning that could go before voters on the November ballot.

The “Religious Freedom” amendment would delete the 125-year-old provision in the constitution prohibiting state money from being spent directly or indirectly to aid any church, sect or religious denomination. And it would open the door to former Gov. Jeb Bush’s school voucher program allowing public school students to use state money to pay for religious school tuition that the Florida Supreme Court struck down.

Also known as the “Blaine Amendment,” the separation of church and state restriction was an anti-Catholic, anti-immigration measure aimed at keeping Catholics from obtaining government funding for their schools.

The proposal not only strikes the Blaine amendment from the constitution, it adds a single sentence that could radically change public education funding in Florida: “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.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure (SJR 2550) along partisan lines this morning, with Democrats objecting.

Sen. Dan Gelber argued that the measure would open the door for transform the state’s public school system into a religious school education paid for with tax dollars.
“What it does is it creates for the first time anywhere an affirmative obligation to fund private, religious education, to privatize schools to religious schools. That is not what I think we should be doing at a time when our schools are so challenged. The idea that this is how the Florida legislature responds by putting on the ballot something that affirmatively create a burden to fund private religious schools and privatize our schools is wrong,” said Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat who is running for attorney general.

Gelber also said the language is confusing and, since no other state has similar language in its constitution, “Nobody has an idea what it’s going to do other than what I just said.”

Chairman Joe Negron said that state should do away with the discriminatory language.

“If government funds are being expended, then the government shouldn’t discriminate against organizations that are faith-based,” said Negron, R-Stuart. “I think the Blaine amendment is a stain on our state’s history and I think we need to call it what it is which is blatant anti-Catholicism…The idea that government can discriminate against religious institutions to me is a reprehensible point of view.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

49 Responses to “Senate moves to end separation of church and state”

  1. Right Says:

    Interesting that we are now going to call this an anti-catholic law when we all know what it means is an education busting – give money to faith baased- law. Republicans are funny!

  2. yankdis Says:

    Fl was once a progressive and pragmatic state, thanks to politicians like Askew, Grham, and Chiles, but ever since, FL has gone backwards. Seems like some want FL to be in the 1930′s…sheesh.

  3. No to Dems & GOPs Says:

    The GOPs continue to wreck this country and everything it stands for while the Dems sit on their hands and twiddle their thumbs. The GOPs, the American Hezbollah, do everything to divide America with their hate rhetoric while simultaneously dismantling the U.S. Constitution. Patriots they are NOT. The Dems are the enablers and for the most part are completely spinless! We need a real political revolution very soon or this country is toast!

  4. GT Says:

    People are tired of Progressivess and their fellow travlers. The US constitution was based on Christianity and with it we HAD the most freedom the world has known. All religions. Progressives promise government in every aspect of your life telling what you can and cann’t do. Give me freedom.

  5. WPB Resident Says:

    You need to leave the statute alone.

  6. Roamer Says:

    Yes, lets use tax funds to put more kids in Catholic schools so the priests don’t run out of kids to molest. Anything anti-Catholic is fine with me. Look at their history from the Roman Empire to WWII to their present day scandles.

  7. Fed Up With Hypocrisy Says:

    Bill McCollum and his fellow Republicans are suing the federal government claiming that requiring an individual to purchase thier own health insurance is unconstitutional. Yet, these same champions of our constitutuion have no problen removing the separation of church and state clause from our constitution. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds!

  8. numi Says:

    Firstly, anyone commenting about America being a christian nation is a pure eejit. Dumb as dirt. Would make a good Republicanite.

    Secondly, I am seriously considering opening a school (assuming the amendment is passed) based on the principles of Buddhism. No ROTC here, for sure.

    I’m not sure all the good christians understand that opening the tap for all religions means ALL religions, not just those of which you approve. Stupid goobers.

  9. sick of FL Says:

    Numi mentions “good christians”. I believe that statement’s a contradiction as I’ve never met a good (outspoken) christian. I’ve met plenty of christians who smile as they look down their noses at everyone else. I do love the idea of a Buddhist school. I hate the idea of removing the separation of church & state.

  10. american patriot Says:

    WELL I VOTE TO SEPERATE CITIZENS AND FEDERAL ,STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT FORM CITIZENS

    THAT WOULD MAKE THE GOVERNMENT COMPLETLY WORTHLESS, MORE THAN IT IS NOW.

    FIRE THEM ALL

    5 Million planed to march on Washington this Novemeber.

    I cant wait to go.

  11. J. Hunt Says:

    Why is Florida willing to spend money on voucher programs when teachers and school district employees have been unable to receive raises for several years, schools cannot afford to provide students with the necessary means, and the SB6 bill is about to be passed, making teaching even more difficult? Does this mean that parochial schools will have to begin participating on the FCAT? The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”; will all parochial schools (Catholic, Jewish, Islamic, etc) be funded? And will non-parochial private schools receive the same benefits? This is a shameless way for the ultra-conservatives to apply their agenda…

  12. Nate & Harriet Smith Says:

    THIS IS WITHOUT A DOUBT THE WORST CASE
    OF PARTISAN POLITICS WE HAVE SEEN. AT WHAT POINT WILL THE REPUBLICANS START WORKING FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PUBLIC. THEIR ONLY PURPOSE IN THE LEGISLATURE IS SELF-SERVING. NOT ONLY ARE THEY WITHOUT CONSCIENCE, THEY ARE RUTHLESS.WE,AS DEDICATED VOTERS, ARE COMMITED TO DEFEATING THESE SO CALLED “POLITICIANS”.

  13. Suneel Says:

    Time to enact the separation between Republicans and Florida.

  14. Riviera Beach Says:

    Does this mean our mayor bishop masters can now wear his burger king hat inside city hall?

  15. John M Says:

    This is great. My Muslim friends want to go their and open madrassas. Saudi Arabia is ready to move its most fanatical imams in. Sharia law, Christian or Muslim, in Florida!

  16. Oh Jesus! Says:

    “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”
    -President Thomas Jefferson: in letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813

  17. Oh Jesus! Says:

    “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, ’tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.” – Benjamin Franklin: in letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780

  18. Oh Jesus! Says:

    It is clear to me that our Nation’s Founding Fathers would not agree with the Republicans on this issue. It is time to restore our democracy. VOTE DEMOCRAT!

  19. DannyR Says:

    What will be the definition of a church organization? Would a cult type qualify? Would radical churches that don’t support our way of life qualify? Where do we draw the line? This could come back to bite all of us in the end. Another portion of the GOP agenda to destroy the public school system.

  20. Boxhead Says:

    Let’s hear it for government sponsored pedophilia! Yeah!!!

  21. Jim M Says:

    Numi hit the nail on the head. If this passes, any religious organization would have the same rights…and who would decide if a religious school does not qualify?……sounds like a lot of lawsuits on the horizon……oh, we’ll have to pay for those also!

  22. Put God in your life Says:

    This Country needs more Faith. It is sad to see our Country sink lower and lower into the pit of immorality. There is nothing wrong with Deleting this outdated garbage from the constitution, it is going to be up to the Voters to decide, and if the Voters decide to leave it, so be it, if the Voters decide to Delete it, then respect the fact that Majority of Floridians have spoken. After all it is “We the People” I just find it funny that Christians are the popular thing to blame and make fun, but we were not the ones who flew airplanes into buildings, or Cut peoples heads off for no reason, no we just believe in our Savior who died on the Cross for your sins, your hate, and if you choose to live your life outside of the Bible do not Complain when it is time to pay the Final bill on Judgment day.

  23. Florida Native Says:

    Public schools are an abysmal failure. They are NOT getting any better and have proven that they are fiscally irresponsible, corrupt, and they can’t meet the needs of the students because the State is their customer. I can’t wait to write a letter to my Senator and tell him how in favor I am of deleting this amendment. ALL schools would be better off if the people got to use THEIR hard-earned money to go to the school of THEIR choice, not big bro’s choice.

  24. Florida Native Says:

    J Hunt, the state is willing to spend money on voucher programs because, believe it or not IT’S OUR MONEY AND WE SHOULD BE FREE TO SPEND IT ON THE SCHOOL OF OUR CHOICE!!! Your post sounds typical of a disconnected liberal who thinks that the state has every right to take from the people then tell the people exactly how they are going to live. You also seem to think that you deserve a bigger piece of the pie more than a family deserves a voucher. IT’S OUR MONEY NOT YOURS.

  25. Tobie Says:

    Personally I don’t believe any tax dollars should go to support any particular religion. Religion should be a personal issue, if you chose to support it that should be your option. Support should for religious endeavors should not be mandated by legislators and definitely not by tax payer dollars.

  26. RV Says:

    This just in! This proposal and the teacher merit pay bill have been merged! From now on if a teacher does not meet certain requirements, they will be immediately replaced by a religious crusader who will indoctrinate the students with proper ‘republican’ teachings.

  27. Florida Native Says:

    OK chicken littles, read this analysis:

    “The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that a different provision of Florida ’s Constitution, Article 9 Section 1(a), prohibits vouchers. Neither SJR 2550 nor HJR 1399 have any effect on that section; vouchers will still be 100% unconstitutional in Florida after these bills pass. Rather than attacking these bills on the merits, the opposition is trying to create a straw man as a distraction. Florida ’s Blaine Amendment is the modern embodiment of KKK religious invidious discrimination and these repeal bills are about nothing more than promoting religious tolerance and liberty for all people.”

    I would strongly suggest that the naysayers do a little more research and stop relying on MSM hysteria to see what this is all about. You might actually agree after you have the facts.

  28. RV Says:

    Hey ‘Put God in your life’. Pick up a history book (no the bible does not count) and look up ‘The Crusades’ and ‘Inquisition’. Both are loaded with tales about christians cutting heads off.

  29. Schools Says:

    The goverment can perfectly give funds to catholic schools and the people who are not agree with the catholic education can they get their kids in the public schools. Cartholics pay taxes also as non-catholics.

    Why the kids are killing teachers, classmates? Why the violence in the schools? because the students and their parents are not close to God.

  30. Gaynelle Says:

    Sick of FL, I am so sorry that you have never met a “good” Christian. I can say with certainty that I and many of my fellow believers hope that it is never said of us that we looked down on any another human being regardless of belief. Ours is a religion of love, and we are especially called to love those whom society would prefer to shun.

    If the Blaine Ammendment was indeed anti-Catholic, then perhaps it should go. However, funneling public funds toward religious schools violates separation of church and state. This is not acceptable. I say this even though one of my children attends a Christian school. Separation of Church and State protects our religious freedom. We need to keep it that way.

    Numi, you are right to point out that this opens the door to all religions, not just the ones that the meddlers have in mind. That’s exactly what I have said to the folks who want to make English the official language. We could end up with 4 or 5 official languages like Switzerland or Spain.

  31. David Warren Says:

    Finally, thank you! It’s a shame though, this doesn’t make me happy because Ted DOUCHE is winning Congress and would go insane on this, depite his fellow constituents, which [we] are REPUBLICANS.

    ALLOW THE RECALL OF STATE OFFICIALS IN FLORIDA.

  32. Gadget Says:

    “Roamer Says:
    April 13th, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Yes, lets use tax funds to put more kids in Catholic schools so the priests don’t run out of kids to molest. Anything anti-Catholic is fine with me. Look at their history from the Roman Empire to WWII to their present day scandles.”
    ____________________________________
    Based on this logic, because there are a few bad priest, that means all priests are bad. I guess that means if a couple white men are child molesters, then all white men are child molesters. Actually, I saw some TEACHERS arrested for sex with kids, so that means ALL TEACHERS ARE ALSO CHILD MOLESTERS.

    I strongly suggest you stop the bigotry. It just makes you look as ignorant as the KKK.

    I have no problem with Buddhist, Muslim or other Christian churches. Nine out of the original 13 colonies had state religions including Governor and Founding Father Sam Adams’ Massachusetts. Furthermore, Thomas Jefferson had ministers of different sects speaking at his church located in the capital.

  33. PBC Resident Says:

    First off, TAX THE CHURCHES!!!! Every dollar they don’t pay is a dollar we have to pay. The churches abuse our infrastructure, roads, sidewalks, police and fire department. By them not paying taxes it’s showing them respect. It’s treating them as a special class.

    Look at how many trillions of dollars the churches have stolen from the tax payer. We have such large deficits and high taxes because they don’t pay….

  34. Reality Says:

    I’m going to throw up. How and when did Florida become the most conservative state in the country?? It’s never going to end!

  35. PBC Resident Says:

    Which reminds me….I just drove by a church which had a 100 foot cell phone tower shaped like a cross. That church is getting thousands of dollars a year from renting that strip of land. They don’t pay taxes on the profit. They don’t pay property taxes. They can own bare land and pay no taxes. They then sell that land and pay no taxes on the profit. END THE SCAM RIGHT NOW!!! TAX THE CHURCHES!!!

  36. Dr. Yusuf Al-Kindi Says:

    The US Constitution was NOT based on Christianity. Actually, it was based upon the ideas of the LIBERAL Enlightenment and the words and phrases of John Locke can be found in the Constitution. This bill should be defeated because using government money for any church or religion goes against EVERYTHING that this country is really about.

  37. albert camus Says:

    maybe would we could add to the bill that non-christians wear an armband so we know who they are.

  38. Dick Says:

    The truth of the matter is that private and religious schools provide a better education than public schools. The reason is that private and religious will not nor do not have to put up with the politics and attitude of many (not all) of the teacher’s, student and parents. It works. Try it. It’s not perfect but it beats most (not all) public schools. The parents will have to pay more than the voucher amount and will have a different attitude. Florida schools, for various reasons do not live up to the national norms. Too much money has been throw at public education at the lower level. It’s a quick way to get the overall test scores up and reduce costs in the long run.

  39. Tony Says:

    Well if a school that falls under church is their collected funds tax-free? And we need to discourage parents not wanting to use public schools. It’s too closely to keep these schools open if no one is going to use them. We need to invest in making public schools better in FL. And people should listen to these teachers. Most are trying to do that. But they need better support from the school board and the parents. I think it should be harder to get kids into public schools. Parents shouldn’t be able to dump their kids off and demand them to be taught. How many really good students are in public schools? And aren’t we trying to pass a bill that forces teachers to make these kids learn? Parents should have to prove they are willing to support their children to learn all then can from our schools. If they want hands off teaching, then go pay a private school to spoon-feed your children information. Only kids that want to be in school that are backed by parents that want the best for their kids should be in public schools. But the sad fact about that is we would have even lower attendance then! I will vote this 1 down 4sure!!

  40. Susan Says:

    Put God in your life: Lovely post- nicely said.

  41. rusty Says:

    In fairness,if there is no longer the separation of church and state, I’m sure that churches will have to start paying taxes. Yea right!!!

    Long live theocracy, right tea baggers.
    It is really working well in Iran.

  42. Marty Says:

    Where in this article did it say catholic schools, it said religious schools. There are many christian and jewish schools.

    For that matter, the federal government already sends money to private religious schools through Title I funds.

    Ditto to inservice programs for religious schools and for materials.

    Who cares, as long as kids are educated and safe in schools. The public schools are failing miserably.

    Let’s take this forward.

  43. Marty Says:

    time to throw out all democrats who strangle our country.

    Keep Florida out of the hands of democrats who seek to flood the country with immigrants and to take parental school decisions out of the hands of parents.

    Let parents be in control of their children’s schooling and make choices as to where their children attend school,

  44. Bill Says:

    Put God in your life, making taxpayers pay for faith is just not right. Now, remember, Muslim schools will also get taxpayer monies, too, if this is deemed constitutional. And, you’ll see thousands of Christians screaming about that, just wait.

  45. John Says:

    Dick, the truth of the matter is comparing test scores of the public schools vs. nonpublic schools is skewed. Nonpublic schools do not have to take all students. Now, if you want comparisons, let’s put the top 1,000 public school kids vs. the top 1,000 nonpublic school kids, and average the scores. And, those private schools will raise the tuition so the minorities with their vouchers won’t be able to afford to attend anyways. I’ve seen it done where I live.

  46. Dan Hilbert Says:

    Scientology is going to love this amendment if it is passed. So will Spirits of the Devil’s Deciples and the Christian Scientists and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Those who believe that General George Custer died for our sins at Little Big Horn have started a church. It’s going to be fun to watch all the church’s clamor for state money.

  47. Jeffrey Harris Says:

    I believe we can have a state church, the bible is the foundation of our nation, was it not George Washington who said: “It is rightly impossible to govern a nation without God and a bible.” We the people are the checks and balances of modern federal big government, they will have no choice but to enact upon our rights to be free to invoke principle to our ammendment for the right to offer this help to an institution we all belong. I am a proponent for state independance as we speak, if federal big government can’t see clear the will of the people then we the people have but few choices that are clear.

  48. Jeffrey Harris Says:

    I second my first comment with a quote from former President John Adams: “Christianity is the rock for which the republic rests.”

  49. Andrew A. Sailer Says:

    gr8 research bro…

Florida political tweeters
Video: Politics stories
Categories
Archives