Florida voters on November 6 will have a chance to decide on
Amendment 8 -- what is being billed as a constitutional amendment
for religious freedom.
Jim Frankowiak of Citizens for Religious Freedom and
Non-Discrimination heads the campaign for approval of the
measure. He points out that religious organizations and people of
faith for many decades have provided an array of social
services in Florida.
"There's an amendment to the [state] constitution
that's been around since the late 1880s," Frankowiak notes. "It's
been essentially dormant up until a few years ago when some
out-of-state folks, the Council for Secular Humanism, decided to
invoke what's called the Blaine Amendment in a lawsuit it brought
against a couple of faith-based programs serving those in
The Amendment 8 proponent contends the Council's lawsuit is
designed to drive religion out of the public square. It has already
made faith-based programs in Florida vulnerable.
"State government has spent nearly $400 million over the last
two to three years for social service programs that faith-based
groups have undertaken here in the state," Frankowiak accounts.
"That's a pretty extensive offering, and a lot of people would be
affected, so we want to preserve that partnership."
Approval of Amendment 8 would remove the constitutional
obstacle, allowing the state and faith-based groups to continue
working together on social services.