Religious Freedom Amendment Eight

Political signs are something you don't often see on the grounds of a church, but Amendment Eight is changing that. Called Religious Freedom, the amendment is being supported by Baptists and Catholics among others.

Michael Sheedy, a spokesman for the Catholic Bishops of Florida says the church is worried that without Amendment Eight, the Church will no longer be able to provide needed social services. "From soup kitchens to charity organizations to housing for the homeless to transitional housing to substance abuse assistance."

For more than 125 years, the state Constitution has banned taxpayer money spent “in aid of any church”. Thirty-seven other states have the same prohibition. Amendment Eight eliminates that prohibition.

Amendment Eight used to be Amendment Seven, which is no more. That's because this court, the State Supreme Court, found the way the language was written to be misleading and took it off the ballot.

The language was made less objectionable, but opponents say it is still misleading.

“It compels tax payers to pay for religious inculcation. In certain circumstances it creates a right to religious institutions to have state funding," said Constitutional Attorney Ron Meyer.

In the past, courts have found that it is okay for taxpayer money to go to religious organizations as long as they use it for things like helping the homeless and not religious purposes. Eight's supporters worry that may not always be the case.

The amendment requires 60% approval to become part of the Constitution.


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