March 24, 2008

Is Florida Ready to Utterly Gut Church-State Separation?

At a time when president-elect of the Florida School Boards Association Beverly Slough hasn't even had time in the last month to read the book I sent her due to what she has told me is the financial crisis facing Florida and its schools, you would think that the state legislature would be falling all over itself trying to find ways to make sure money got to where it really needed to go — to the states failing universities and public school system.

You would be terribly wrong.

In fact, members of the state legislature's Taxation and Budget Reform Commission have a very different idea about where money should go. They're trying to get Committee Proposal 20 (CP0020) on the ballot in November at which time it could be placed by popular vote into the state constitution. What, you might ask, does this proposal do? According to the Committee's website, it's:

A resolution proposing an amendment to Section 3 of Article I of the State Constitution to repeal a limit on the use of public revenues in aid of religious organizations and entities, and to prohibit individuals and entities from being barred from participating in public programs because of their religion.
Who needs schools when you can have churches instead? Why not just hand over tax revenues to religious organizations with no limits at all?

This is in conjunction with another resolution, SR0019,
An act relating to faith and character-based prisons; providing legislative intent; authorizing the expansion of faith-based programs at correctional institutions; authorizing character-based programs at correctional institutions; mandating expansion and evaluation of faith and character-based programs at certan [sic] correctional institutions; providing an effective date.
Both of these proposals could not only become law, they could become part of Florida's constitution. It's very difficult to reverse constitutional amendments, which is precisely why the legislature-dominating religious activist lobby wants to see them in there in the first place.

If these things become law in Florida, I will be glad to have left there if for no other reason than to avoid becoming an unwilling generator for the funding of religious fundamentalists. And, if they do become law, I wonder how long it will take for lawsuits to begin against the state. Clearly the establishment clause means nothing to these folks.

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