Dear ACLU friends and supporters,

As many of you know, the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission just last Wednesday passed a proposal that would add an amendment to November’s ballot with sweeping changes to the Florida Constitution. It would allow for government-funded religion through proselytizing activities and by allowing religious groups to use tax dollars to discriminate on the basis of religion in whom they hire and serve. The amendment would strike Florida’s “no aid to religion” clause in the constitution and add language specifically allowing government to fund religion.

The news gets worse -- they're at it again, and once more we urge you to take action to protect freedom of religion and belief in Florida. Freedom of religion in our state is under threat as never before.

On Friday, April 4th, the Commission will vote on Proposal CP0040, a new proposal that would place on the ballot a devastating constitutional amendment authorizing the government to fund religious providers of public services such as health care and education. This proposal, if placed on the ballot by the Commission and passed by the voters, could create and fund sectarian social service programs that could require religious participation in order to receive social services. Under proposal CP0020 passed last Wednesday, these social service programs could also be permitted to discriminate in whom is hired and served.

The words of the latest proposal deceptively appear to grant rights, but their real effect is government-funded religious discrimination. And it doesn’t stop there. An amendment has been introduced to proposal 40 that would essentially gut the Florida Constitution’s requirement that it is a paramount duty of the state to provide an education for all children through a uniform, high-quality system of free public schools.

In the realm of public education, this proposal effectively reverses Bush v. Holmes -- the landmark case striking down a school voucher program -- and permits the government to use tax dollars to fund a system of private and church-run schools.

CP0040, especially when viewed together with the proposals the Commission passed last week, essentially changes the entire landscape of the government's ability to fund religion in Florida. The result will be not only the loss of religious freedom for individuals who may be compelled to participate in religious activities in order to receive needed services, but also strife and controversy as religious groups compete for government funding. CP0040 and last week’s CP0020 also seek to create a constitutional basis to permit a religious provider to deny services to someone of a different faith and to discriminate in its hiring and employment policies along religious lines – with government funding. It is for these reasons that our country and our state have long drawn a bright line between religion and government.

Your voice is urgently needed. Click here to take action or copy and paste the URL below into your browser. Tell the Commission TODAY that you do not agree with proposal CP0040 and strongly urge them to vote against it.
You can copy and paste the e-mail below into the comments section on the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission's Web site. If you would like to send your message to individual commissioners, you can do so by clicking here and then clicking on the envelope icon after each of their names. If you cannot click on the above link, you can copy and paste this URL into your browser:

We would recommend targeting the following four commissioners with your message:

Mike Hogan, of Jacksonville
Bob McKee, of Leesburg
Darryl Rouson, of St. Petersburg
Kenneth "Ken" Wilkinson, of Fort Myers


Dear members of the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission:

As a concerned Florida citizen, I am writing today to strongly urge you to VOTE NO ON CP0040 - a proposal that will permit the use of tax dollars to create and fund sectarian social service programs that could require individuals to participate in religious activities in order to receive needed social services.

In particular, voting for this proposal will chip away at the right of Florida's children to enjoy a free, uniform, and high-quality education at public schools that are both adequately funded AND unaffiliated with religious organizations. For parents, voting for this proposal will undermine their freedom to raise their children with the religion and belief system of their choosing.

Creating sectarian social services and schools that can discriminate in whom they hire and whom they serve will also pit religions against one another in the competition for government funding. We need government-free religion, not government-funded religion.

Our Founding Fathers understood all too well the need to keep religion free from the government. Nowhere is this truer than in public schools, where our children deserve to receive a free, high-quality education without interference with the beliefs they are being taught in their home. Furthermore, our healthcare institutions and elder care centers should not be allowed to use tax dollars to require participation in religious activities or discriminate in whom they hire or serve.

I urge you not to strip Florida's Constitution of the religious freedom that our Founding Fathers held so dear.



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