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Constitutional amendment doing away with separation of church and state back on the ballot…for now

by Dara Kam | December 20th, 2011

A measure doing away with a century-old prohibition on using state funds for religious purposes is back on the November 2012 ballot, for now, after Attorney General Pam Bondi rewrote the proposal using a Tallahassee judge’s guidance.

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis last week tossed the proposed “Religious Freedom” constitutional amendment, placed on next year’s November ballot by lawmakers, saying it was misleading because it left the impression that it would “make it a lot harder for the state to deny funding or program benefits to a sectarian institution.”

Under a new election law signed by Gov. Rick Scott this spring, Bondi had 10 days to rewrite the ballot summary. She crafted the revised measure as Lewis suggested in his Dec. 13 ruling by deleting the phrase “consistent with the United States Constitution” and inserting “except as required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Critics say the amendment makes it easier for the GOP-dominated legislature and executive branch to steer taxpayer money to religious entities, including schools. The amendment’s ballot summary would change Florida’s constitution to ensure that “no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding, or other support.” At least 60 percent of voters must approve the measure for it to pass.

The plaintiffs in the case, including religious leaders and the Florida teachers’ union, also tried but failed to get Lewis to strike down the law allowing the attorney general to revise the summary if a court strikes it down as misleading. Bondi’s rewrite Tuesday is the first time the new law giving her that ability has been used.

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21 Responses to “Constitutional amendment doing away with separation of church and state back on the ballot…for now”

  1. Downtown Danny Says:

    So here we have the Republican “less government” liars bringing Government into religion.
    What happens when a religious organization becomes dependent on Gov cash? Now they are subservient to the Government.
    They change some laws so they can circumvent other laws.
    Hey Tea Party morons – is this what you had in mind when you voted for Scott & Bondi – taxing us to give money to crooked preachers who tell everyone to live their life based on their interpretation of a 2,000 year old book?
    Give our tax dollars to Preachers while they are caught again and again with hookers and drugs and stealing money and raping little boys.
    This ain’t freedom man.
    This ain’t less government man.
    This ain’t a better use of my tax dollars man.
    This is crooked people the Tea Party elected stealing every thing they can away from us.

  2. larryh32 Says:

    Going back to the Dark ages! Downtown Danny you have it all exactly right!

  3. sue Says:

    So they’ll be just fine with taxpayer money going to a madrassah, eh?

  4. Face the Facts Says:

    Only a minority of people want it off the ballot.

    Don’t you want the people to vote on it?

    Don’t you trust the people to do the right thing?

    Or do you think the people are stupid?

  5. TJ Says:

    So who will decide what religious institutions will get government funding and which won’t?

    Will all religious institutions be treated equal, i.e. will Hindu schools get the same amount of $ as Christian, Muslim and Jewish ones?

    Somehow I doubt it, and only Christian schools will be given access to the $, which would be the same thing as the State sponsoring a specific religion.

    The same situation which was one of the reasons the Pilgrims left England and one of the situations the Founding Fathers were trying to avoid with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

  6. Same Ole, Same Ole Says:

  7. Ed Joyce Says:

    There was a good reason Florida’s constitution was written to keep tax dollars from going to religious institutions. It wasn’t because 100 years ago Florida was anti-religious. It was becasue people realized the troubles that arise when church and state become too cozy. From history, they learned that both church and state operate better when they are kept apart.

    If a church cannot support itself through private donations and needs to rely on public support to survive, then I quesiton whether that church deserves to exist.

  8. sign o the times Says:

    excellent… i wonder what the punishment is in a Sharia justice system for corrupt elected officials!

    that would clean out congress and the whole body politic

    oh, and rating agencies that put AAA on junk. and bankers who bet against deals they put their clients in. and the bankers who help politicians hide sovereign debt and plunge whole societies into misery.

    yes, lets do away with the separation of church and state. excellent.

    we’ll also have the stupidest population on earth. by the time the kids at school observe every represented religion, it’ll be time to go home… who needs math or science. pray for success

  9. Rasputin Says:

    Is there still a US Constitution that would supersede the Fla Constitution? Bondi is a fool and has sullied the legal profession by even involving her office in a money intensive and wasteful endeavor. One of the pillars upon which our country was founded was the separation of church and state. These tea party activists would unravel that and spit in the faces of our founders.

  10. Pastafarian Says:

    The Great Spaghetti Monster needs the loot.

  11. Ed Joyce Says:

    Rasputin – I’m not a constitutional attorney but my guess is if the Fla. bill passes there will be legal appeals from many religous and civil liberty groups. Since there is no legal precedent for what Fla. is doing the bill will probably not pass constiutional muster and hopefully will be shot down.

  12. JAGCAT Says:

    If were going to play this game, then its time we start taxing the church. They have not been paying taxes, so why do they have the right to receive our tax money. This is just so WRONG.

  13. tweedle Says:

    How consummately republican-party. This state has some of the worst politicians in the country, starting at the Governor’s mansion and trickling right down.

  14. Damien Says:

    Pay to play I say. If you want my tax dollars then give up your tax exempt status and pay in. Then, on the other hand, separation of church and State is there for a very good reason. Each one of these so called polititions should have to pay out of their personal pocket the expense of every single manpower hour expended on clearly worthless causes such as this. The law will never pass constitutional muster so trying to do so is a waste of our taxpayor moneey and should be paid back for their stupidity. If they want a religious State, I say move to Iran.

  15. @everyone Says:

    Why is any of this an issue? if the 1st of the ammendment states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
    Why does this country continue to institute laws that prohibit the free excercise of religion when it is clearly stated not to do so in our constitution? Answer: We let them!

  16. nomore55 Says:

    People need to remember this kind of stuff when they vote nov. 2012. ridiculious exercise in the waste of tax payer money.

  17. .... Says:

    You all realize the world IS going to end DEC 2012 so none of this bs will matter anyways…

  18. Bring it on Says:

    Thank God, this nightmare will finally be over. The Post readers have saced the day once again!

  19. Meg Prichard Says:

    Check it out, there are many churches already existing as 501c non profits in the state of florida… all the megachurches are on the public dole already. They are listed by the state as a non church, an organization that provides religious services… but they don’t tell the congregation it’s a corporation when they collect their tithes. Google will tell you what your pastor won’t… see if your church is really a church or a non church that provides religious services. It’s either a church or not.

  20. Audio editor free Says:

    People believing in the End Of The World in 2012 shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Just my opinion. Saying that it doesn’t matter who to vote for because it all ends anyways in a month after the elections is at least irrational.

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