Florida Amendment 8 Mandates Taxpayer Support of Religion, AU Leader Says

Article excerpt

A proposed constitutional amendment that would rewrite the religious freedom section of the Florida Constitution is dangerous, Rabbi Merrill Shapiro says.

Shapiro, president of the Americans United Board of Trustees and rabbi at Temple Shalom in Deltona, wrote a guest column for Florida Voices warning about Amendment 8.

Although described as a "religious freedom" measure, the proposal would actually reduce religious liberty in the state, Shapiro said.

"Despite what some would have you believe, religious liberty in Florida (and in America) has broad constitutional protection," wrote Shapiro. "We are a diverse nation of many faiths and philosophies, and Florida reflects those trends. The breadth and scope of religious liberty in this state is nothing short of remarkable, and it's all thanks to the separation of church and state.

"Yet there are those who would wreck this beautiful experiment in freedom," Shapiro added. "Some religious and political forces, motivated by a theory of politics that has all the subtlety of a steamroller, have placed Amendment 8 on the Florida ballot. And like a steamroller, this amendment, if passed, would flatten religious freedom in our state."

Shapiro noted that Amendment 8's proponents really want to secure taxpayer funding for religion. …