Florida Mulls Funding For Religious Schools
Want your tax dollars to fund someone else's private-school, religious education? Move to Florida. Sunshine State conservatives are pushing a constitutional amendment for November that would repeal a 125-year ban on state funding for religious programs. Their argument is largely historical: the state constitution currently features what's known as a "Blaine Amendment," a relic of the anti-Catholic hysteria of the late 1800s (here's a terrifying illustration from Harper's) which prohibits any public funds for religious programs. Here's the language:
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.
The plan isn't as radical as it sounds—the Establishment Clause of the Constitution is still there, after all, so don't expect Gov. Charlie Crist to replace the law code with the Book of Leviticus any time soon. Beyond that, Florida's current statute is generally considered to be among the strictest in the union; a slight relaxation of the existing law probably wouldn't be so bad.