Florida's Amendment 8: Bad for Religion, Bad for Taxpayers
Interest in the presidential race is intense, and that's not surprising. But voters across the country will also face ballot referenda next month that could affect the separation of church and state. It's important that people be educated about these issues.
One of the most alarming ballot initiatives is in Florida where Amendment 8 will, if passed, basically obliterate church-state separation from the Florida Constitution. The amendment, which is being promoted by a coalition of Religious Right groups and the Roman Catholic hierarchy, is a clear effort to pave the way for school voucher subsidies and other forms of taxpayer aid to religion.
This fight could have ramifications far beyond the Sunshine State. Two-thirds of the states have provisions in their constitutions that bar taxpayer support for religious schools and other ministries. Voucher advocates and forces that dislike church-state separation have been attacking these provisions for years. Their hope is to knock out Florida's religious liberty safeguard and then roll on to other states.
A number of reckless and inaccurate claims are being made in Florida. Chief among them is the charge that Florida's constitution is hostile to religion--or, more specifically, hostile to Catholicism--because it bans certain forms of state aid to religion, such as school vouchers.
Here's why the argument fails: The Florida Constitution places all religions on a level playing field. …