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Florida legislators Rep. Steve Precourt and Sen. Thad Altman Unveil “Religious Freedom Act”

Rep. Steve Precourt (R-Orlando) today introduced House Joint Resolution (HJR) 1399, also known as the Religious Freedom Act, an amendment to Florida’s constitution repealing the Blaine Amendments.  The proposed constitutional amendment, also sponsored by Senator Thad Altman (R-Melbourne) Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 2550, repeals a limit on the power of the state to spend funds directly or indirectly in aid of sectarian institutions.

“Blaine Amendments are antiquated constitutional tenants rooted in bigotry that go far beyond the separation of church and state envisioned by our founding fathers,” said Representative Precourt.  “If we don’t take action now, millions of dollars in quality state programs- from Bright Futures to Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten – will be jeopardized.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in Mitchell v. Helms that Blaine Amendments have “a shameful pedigree that we do not hesitate to disavow” and represent a “doctrine, born of bigotry, [that] should be buried now.”

Though this proposed amendment will remove a limit on the power of the state to spend funds, the state will continue to be limited by the Establishment Clauses of the Florida and U.S. Constitutions.  Under the Establishment Clauses, government aid may not result in governmental indoctrination, define its recipients by reference to religion, or create an excessive entanglement.

“People in private organizations should not be disenfranchised from working with the public sector on some of society’s most difficult problems,” said Senator Altman.  “This constitutional amendment restores the way America was envisioned to work,” concluded Altman.

The proposed constitutional amendment will read:

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to provide that an individual or entity may not be barred from participating in any public program because of religion and to delete the prohibition against using revenues from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.

Related posts:

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  2. Skidmore sponsoring six bills in 2010 Florida legislative session
  4. Florida, 12 other states fill constitutionality suit against health care bill
  5. Florida attorney general joins 12 other states attorney generals in letter against health care bill

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Posted by Andrea Freygang on Feb 27 2010. Filed under Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, Local news, Tallahassee. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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