TAMPA, Fl., Aug. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Emergency response to major weather events like Hurricane Isaac is not limited to governmental agencies. Responders typically include religious groups representing different denominations, many of whom receive state funding, a long-standing partnership which will continue only if Florida ballot Amendment 8 passes in November, according to Citizens for Religious Freedom and Non-Discrimination.
A cursory review of public records from the past three years reflects state government funding in excess of $389 million to a range of religious entities serving Floridians.
"In Florida, many religious providers of critical services, far beyond those responding during major weather events, stand in jeopardy of losing governmental funding because of an arcane amendment to the Florida Constitution that prohibits use of government funds either directly or indirectly in support of any religious group," said Mike Hill of Citizens for Religious Freedom and Non-Discrimination.
Amendment 8 would provide "that no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding or other support, except as required by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution." The amendment deletes 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.
"Faith-based providers benefit virtually every segment of society: religious hospitals and clinics that offer Medicaid services; eldercare and indigent care; substance abuse programs, hospice care, housing assistance for the disabled or homeless. Certain college and K-12 scholarship programs could be discontinued Amendment 8 not pass," said Hill.
A pending court case in Florida, Council for Secular Humanism v. McNeil, mounts a constitutional challenge to a prison ministry based upon the current law.
"This suit has the potential of putting every faith-based social service program here in Florida at risk," Hill said.
"Amendment 8 restores equal protection under law. Religious organizations and individuals have an equal and rightful place in the public square and should not have their freedom to participate there limited simply because they are religious," said Hill.
Yes on 8
Citizens for Religious Freedom and Non-Discrimination ("Yes on 8") is focused on ending discrimination against religious organizations and preserving much-need social services through the passage of Amendment 8. Visit www.sayyeson8.com and on Facebook and Twitter @sayyeson8.
SOURCE Citizens for Religious Freedom and Non-Discrimination