As leaders in our faith communities in the State of Florida, we believe taxpayer dollars should never be used to support private religious organizations or schools—not even our own. Therefore, we urge the members of the Constitution Revision Commission to reject Proposals 4 and 45, which would allow public funds to benefit certain faith communities over others.
Together, these two proposals would strip away fundamental and longstanding religious freedom protections and threaten the integrity and autonomy of our houses of worship and religious schools:
Proposal 4 would fully repeal the No-Aid Provision of Article I, §3 of the Florida Constitution, which ensures that taxpayer dollars do not fund religion.
Proposal 45 would effectively repeal the Uniform Public Education Provision of Article IX, §1, which ensures that public dollars fund public schools that serve all our students and are not funneled into private and religious schools.
For 130 years, these constitutional protections have allowed houses of worship and religious schools to flourish by ensuring they remain truly independent from the government. These provisions also have protected the religious freedom of Floridians by guaranteeing that the State will not force any taxpayer to support someone else's religious education, institutions, or beliefs.
Under the current Constitution, the state can and does partner with religiously affiliated organizations to provide publicly-funded social services while simultaneously providing important safeguards that ensure taxpayer dollars are not used to fund religious programs, education, or discrimination. Passage of Proposals 4 and 45 could lead to the government funding religious education, as well as religious indoctrination, proselytization, and discrimination in publicly funded services. That is likely why 55% of Floridians rejected a similar proposal in 2012.
Our Constitution’s current No-Aid and Uniform Public Education Provisions are the foundation for the freedom of religion and belief for all Floridians—faith leaders and nonbelievers alike. Thus, we urge you to reject Proposals 4 and 45.