On November 6th, Floridians will have the opportunity to vote for religious liberty in more ways than one. The HHS mandate, an unprecedented attack by the federal government on the religious liberty of Americans, has rightly caught the attention of people of faith all across the nation. But religious freedom can also be lost at the state level. “Many Floridians will be surprised to learn that the Florida Constitution contains an outdated and discriminatory provision rooted in 19th Century anti-Catholic sentiment that places participation by all religious organizations in state programs in jeopardy.”(1) Otherwise known as the Blaine amendment, Article 1, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution prohibits public funds from directly or indirectly aiding any sectarian institution.
“Despite this provision, religious institutions – such as Catholic healthcare organizations, social service agencies, disaster relief services, colleges and schools – have partnered with the state in a wide range of programs that Floridians view as part of our social fabric. Recent lawsuits show however, that all of these services and the very programs in which these organizations participate are at risk simply because the providers are religious.”(2)
Amendment 8, one of the eleven amendments that will be on the ballot in Florida, is set to repeal the discriminatory Blaine amendment to the Florida Constitution. Amendment 8 would replace the Blaine amendment with the following language:
“Except to the extent required by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, neither the government nor any agent of the government may deny to any individual or entity the benefits of any program, funding, or other support on the basis of religious identity or belief.”
To learn more, watch the following videos in which Juan Bauta, Esq., debates in support of Amendment 8.