Florida’s Amendment 8, Which Would Allow Taxpayer Money to Go to Churches, Is Defeated

Amendment 8 in Florida — euphemistically known as the Florida Religious Freedom Amendment — would have allowed taxpayer money to go to religious schools and houses of worship. Which, in the eyes of church/state separation advocates, would be an awful thing:

This is currently Section 3, Article I of the Florida Constitution:

There shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting or penalizing the free exercise thereof. Religious freedom shall not justify practices inconsistent with public morals, peace, or safety. No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.

This is what voting Yes on Amendment 8 would have done:

There shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting or penalizing the free exercise thereof. Religious freedom shall not justify practices inconsistent with public morals, peace, or safety. No individual or entity may be discriminated against or barred from receiving funding on the basis of religious identity or belief.

Thankfully, with 100% of the precincts reporting, voters have correctly rejected the Amendment:

I will update this page as updated results come in. Keep in mind that you must have 60% of the votes in order to pass an amendment in Florida, so this one isn’t even close.

For now, the wall between church and state remains standing!

***Update***: A couple of atheists are rejoicing on Twitter:





About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Secular Planet

    In Florida, amendments must pass with 60% of the vote. This wasn’t even close!

    • Stev84

      Nice to see that not all states are so fundamentally stupid as to allow a simple plurality to change the constitution

      • nash984954

         Yes, you know, the Founders had a lot of good ideas for which even they could not have foreseen the implications and consequences of changing the State or Federal Constitutions. It seems they had the mental acuity, or a good gut feeling that it should be very hard to change fundamental rules for which whole populations had to abide by, that had been hammered out over long periods of time before final Charters could be drawn up. Good for them! Prohibition comes to mind, though, and clearly initially they felt legislating social behavior was not really a good candidate for making rules over such a widely diverse and different population of peoples, then religious people got into the act and, well, 13 years with no alcohol and many deaths in supplying it illegally, well, they made the move back to controlling, taxing, and regulating it, instead of banning it, right move there.

  • Cheyla

    Florida standing up against the religious state!!

  • Kris

    As a Florida resident, I am proud of my fellow citizens for making the correct choice here.  At the polls today, as I colored in my “No” bubble (while wishing they had a “HELL NO” bubble) , I sorta looked around me, hoping that the other people had the same thoughts. ..

    “This could be disastrous”

    Well I guess they did!

    Outside the church (heh, the irony) where my designated voting precinct was, there were a few people outside who were discussing that very Amendment. I did not join the conversation, but I did overhear one of the men say “I know my Floridians are smart, they wont buy into giving churches money they don’t need” as I walked by the car they were standing near.  I looked over at him and smiled and nodded.  He said to his friend “see, there goes one right there” and pointed at me. 

    It was really neat. 

    Then, the real important part happened. 

    My 4 year old son asked me why we were there. I told him we had to vote for the president. 

    He said “Huh?” 

    So I said “Kind of the most important man in the country”

    He said “You mean Santa!”

    Those two conversations within that couple of seconds really made my day. This is the first place that I saw the Amendment got defeated, so in this I do want to say thank you for being so on top of thing. This defeat I am REALLY happy about as well. So far it’s been a decent political day for me…. at least for now. The rest remains to be seen. 

    • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

      Ehehe. Your 4-year old son sounds so cute XD Give him a big hug for making me giggle first thing in the morning.

      • nash984954

         Ditto and I hereby reiterate….again, Ah…4 yr olds so precious…so innocent…so cute …and so funny, as he put forth an atmosphere whereby the obvious question must next be asked as from his comment, is the US prez the most important man in the country or is it Santa? I tend to think Santa at this point and he isn’t the lesser of two evils, he wins hands down.:-)

        • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

          Eh. I dunno. Santa does have a good thing going with his policies of universal gift-giving and reindeer-powered vehicles, but at the same time, he’s clearly got a slave-labor market going with those elves.

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, Blonde

            mom always told me they were unionized. how else could they enjoy a work schedule where they pretty much have 11 mos of the year off? /scampers

    • fourdemocracy

      I am a new resident of Florida. I could not believe how many amendments were on this ballot by Republicans.  They try to change the Constitution more than any state. 

      I guess they don’t like it at all.  Or is it to confuse people? Ya vote Republican and say yes to all of them.  We need to balance the budget and keep “our god” in Florida? Legislating taxes via the Constitution is cowardly.  The legislative body does that.   

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=639378446 Bridget Gaudette

    As a Floridian this is a HUGE relief. I’m super happy right now.

  • DougI

    I love waking up to good news.

  • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

    Amendment 1 is going down, too.  That one removes a woman’s right to medical privacy from the state constitution, opening the doors to all kinds of crap regarding abortions: mandatory ultrasound, transvaginal ultrasound, counseling….

    • Aureliano_Buendia

       Actually, you’re thinking of Amendment 6. Amendment 1 was to place language in the state constitution saying that an individual healthcare mandate is forbidden (in other words, a state attempt at overriding the federal healthcare law). Luckily, both of them failed. Amendment 1 would have just set up a costly (and ultimately futile) legal battle; glad FL voted it down.

      • nash984954

         Grrrr, if I were a woman I’d be foaming at the mouth at all the crapola the RWNJs have been doing since winning majorities in statehouses Governorships and the US House during the 2010 midterm elections, Actually I am not a woman, and have felt tremendous outrage FOR and on behalf of women since that big win.
        Think of these tragic errors of extremist idiot lawmakers, m0stly men, looking to pass laws that ultimately hurt women, and all that time spent  to repeal the ACA(which is actually ‘good’ for women, as after SCOTUS said A-OKAY, provisions kicked in that helped women immediately)…their voting on it 33 TIMES, as well as time spent with MEN coming up with draconian abortion laws, shit like HR 3 and HR 358 that DID pass the House. And making it harder for single women(many of these women are college ‘educated’ women, they’re not the RWNJ stereotypical promiscuous ‘poor’ women who want to destroy the fabric of the American family using their contraception to have sex, and screw and screw and screw with no consequences since contraception prevents pregnancy which is why women need it, to screw with impunity, and if by chance they get pregnant they can always kill the microscopic baby by having an abortion(cuz’ everyone knows that women use abortion in every instance as birth control)….okay, I’m off the deep end a bit here, but not too far off the mark factually.
        Though women have the vote, they have only 17% membership in the US Congress, down from 111th Congress,(Afghanistan has a higher percentage of women in their Parliament)women do not have true representation, as Jeannette Rankin(elected in 1916 and 1940 as the first woman elected to Congress) from Montana, a Republican and Pacifist who voted down US entry into WW I and WWII, said of women, and I agree with her, though my loud mouthed advocacy for a 50-50 Women to men ratio in Congress I’ve been railing about for the last 40 or so years(I began in the 70s when the ERA was an issue that should have passed, but didn’t, and it was clear to me then(around the period when Gloria Steinem was launching Ms magazine and the term Feminism was coined), had women had at least 50% membership the ERA would have passed, in the same manner as the 2 bills HR3 and HR 358 would have failed had women had 50% women representation. Sadly, my stomping, yelling, and my obvious overt Feminist attitudes, though I’m a man  has produced no greater women representation. It took 72 years for women to get the vote, just after black men got the vote and were freed from slavery(on the books, at least, but Jim Crowe laws put a damper there on freedom and full citizenship rights for freed slaves, as well as the South putting slavery back in due to the clause regarding criminal convictions(they just put black men in jail for minor offense, and voila slavery was back in as industry used jailhouse criminals to work for them.
        I know, I’ve said a mouthful, but we need a US Congress that follows Jeannette Rankin’s quote about women, “We’re half the people; we should be half the Congress.” Maybe then women will no longer be second class citizens in so many ways.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Kramer/574966399 Jason Kramer

    Very glad it didn’t pass. All of the ammendments failed except for the ones without opposition. Honestly, this is a bit of a surprise along with Obama winning the state. I at least expected the abortion one to pass.

  • c smythe

    So the hindus and muslims ant atheist schools can receive the same tax free funding? I didn’t think so. Christians are not the generous loving people they would have you believe . . .

  • Mrmainship

    As a Florida resident I really thought this one would pass because of the way the amendment is titled. I will be looking into who proposed this and who passed this. It’s still hard to believe that this unconstitutional amendment would even make it to the ballot! I applaud the Florida electorate for making the correct choice. Passing this would have done nothing but cost the taxpayers money for the inevitable legal challenge 

    • nash984954

      Proponents of this Amendment 8 bill are, I think, mentally deficient, cuz if you think about it, the only way for there to be true religious freedom is if all religions are kept out of the gov’t, The Founders(they were products of The Enlightenment who saw all the religious strife the many religious sects went through as they were all willing to kill each other over a difference of opinion essentially over their invisible sky daddy), had the right idea to keep out too cozy a relationship with religion and gov’t(I disagree with ‘under god’ in the Pledge of Allegiance, and the removal of ‘E Pluribus unum’ on money and as the US motto, and putting In God We Trust in its place, as well as each body in Congress having a goddamned Chaplain, as to me it is a violation of the separation of church and state, and don’t get me started on Bush’s Faith-Based Initiatives that frigging Obama has made worse, giving more and more tax relief funds to Xian social groups who discriminate against gays and won’t even help gay folks, or women involved in an abortion!! if that’s possible, Hell, it pisses me off, I don’t believe in god, but everywhere I turn a Xian is asking if I’ve accepted Jesus Christ as my saviour(to which I reply forcefully and obnoxiously, I can’t help it, FUCK NO and I NEVER GODDAMNED WILL!),  and in the South at least, not so much in Maryland, where I live now, billboards are all over the place, threatening non-believers that they are going to burn in hell for eternity. I’m happy to see Anti-theist’s anti-religion billboards showing up more and more. I’m not a militant atheist, but fuck it, what if I were? (It’s a free country). Barry Lynn of Americans United should be pleased of the results on Amendment 8, not to mention the Center for Inquiry who has sued the state over using taxes for religious groups(as in Vouchers to evangelical schools and stuff).

      • Baal

        The founders didn’t have to look to the European religion wars either.  Pre- constitution America had substantial church/state involvement and  it lead to a lot of brutality.

  • fourdemocracy

    It is defeated but it will be back. They will keep up their fear mongering over losing their right to worship God. A lot of money and power is at stake for the various religious groups.  

    At my senior community I saw a bumper sticker reading, “Keep God in America”.  I was wondering who was kicking him out and if they could know where he is at all since he is a universal “God”.   Does God only bless America and not Sweden or Dubai? Yes…it is fear mongering and Fascist.  It may be that they will not like what they get when they do pass it. The majority religious groups will grab it all. That is Catholics not Baptists, etc.  

    It will be as feared by our founders..let the religious wars begin. 

    President “Althemizers” Reagan started funding and fear mongering about family values, god, etc. in the South to get a American like Taliban agenda to defeat Democrats like he defeated Russians in Afghanistan. Look how well that turned out.

  • Xeon2000

    Still scary that so many voted yes.

  • Rebecca M

     Another Florida resident here, and STOKED that this was defeated. Seeing all the campaign signs that trumpeted the need to “vote YES for religious freedom” got a little hard to take after a while.

  • NewDawn2006

    This FL resident was rejoicing in her house.  Thank you fellow Floridians! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/cburschka Christoph Burschka

    It would have been interesting to see the reaction to non-Christian religious organizations suddenly entitled to government funds too.

    Oh who am I kidding. They’d have found a way to weasel around that.


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