Fla. fails to upend ban on public funds for religious groups

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Voters have refused to repeal Florida’s ban on public funding for churches and other religious organizations, including parochial schools.

The vote for Amendment 8 was 44% in favor with most ballots counted yesterday. All proposed state constitutional amendments require 60% of the vote.

Besides the repeal, the amendment would have prohibited state and local governments from barring people from participating in public programs if they choose to receive those services through religious organizations.

The Roman Catholic Church was one of the leading supporters of Amendment 8. Supporters said the amendment offered by the Republican-led Legislature would have advanced religious freedom.

Opponents, including the state’s teachers union, said it would have done the opposite. They also argued it would lift a potential legal barrier to new taxpayer-supported voucher programs for private schools.

American Civil Liberties Union of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon said Amendment 8′s defeat meant the Florida Constitution “will continue to protect us against the dangerous entanglement of government and religion that comes with taxpayer funding of religion.”

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