FLORIDA HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION
HJR 1399 - RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Proposes Amendment to s 3 Art 1 of the State Constitution to prohibit individuals and entities from being barred from participating in public programs because of religion and to repeal prohibition on use of public revenues in aid of religious organizations and entities.
Co-sponsors: Burgin, Dorworth, Ford, Plakon,
This Joint Resolution will repeal the antiquated Blaine Amendment which dates back to the 19th century. It is a bill that was sponsored by James Blaine, whose purpose was to prevent parents and children from having a choice in their education. In today’s society parents should be the ones to choose the school that they want their child to attend. In no way should a parent be prevented from sending their child to a private school that teaches religious values. It is time to tell government to leave the choice up to parents. Children are our future and they be allowed to receive the best education possible.
The State Blaine Amendments are provisions in thirty-seven state constitutions that restrict person's and organizations' access to public funds on religious grounds.
The Blaine Amendment placed strict barriers to prevent the flow of public benefits thatxceeded separation of Church and State demanded by the Establishment Clause.
Today the Blaine Amendment continues to restrict funds from flowing to students interested in seeking a career in a religious field.
Case in Point
Larry Witters was a blind man who wanted to attend college in 1979. He applied for vocational funds that Washington State provided for the visually handicapped. Witters was eligible for the funds, and he intended to sue them to study to be a minister at a Christian college. But his plans met resistancen
In 1984, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Establishment Clause barred Witters' use of the funds for religious training . Witters sought review in the US Supreme Court and won.
"If we don''t take action NOW, millions of dollars in quality state programs from Bright Futures to Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten - will be jeopardized"
"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 Blaine Amendment places restrictions on use of voucher programs and charitable choice and raises serious constitutional questions under the First Amendment rights.
The Blaine Amendment excludes persons and groups from participation in broad-based social programs. They single out religion for disfavored treatment.
The Supreme Court has never approved a law that singles out religious persons or groups for special burdens because of their religious character.
Contact your Florida Legislators and ask them to co-sponsor HJR 1399 and companion resolution SJR 2550.