HJR 1471

House Joint Resolution
2A joint resolution proposing an amendment to Section 3 of
3Article I of the State Constitution to eradicate remnants
4of anti-religious bigotry from the State Constitution and
5to end exclusionary funding practices that discriminate on
6the basis of religious belief or identity.
8     WHEREAS, Floridians highly value tolerance and liberty in
9all forms, and
10     WHEREAS, Floridians strongly support the right of each
11person to practice religion according to the dictates of his or
12her own conscience, and
13     WHEREAS, Florida is a religiously diverse state with over a
14quarter of its population identifying as Roman Catholic and with
15the largest Jewish population in the Southern United States, and
16     WHEREAS, the public policy of the State of Florida is to
17support the protection and advancement of religious liberty, and
18     WHEREAS, Florida's Blaine Amendment language, the last
19sentence of Article I, Section 3, of the current State
20Constitution, was originally adopted in 1885 following a failed
21attempt to adopt similar language in the United States
22Constitution, and
23     WHEREAS, Florida's Blaine Amendment language was borne in
24an atmosphere of, and exists as a result of, anti-Catholic
25bigotry and animus, and
26     WHEREAS, the genesis of Florida's Blaine Amendment language
27reflects an attempt to stifle and disrupt the constitutional
28rights and development of the emerging Catholic minority
29community in America, and
30     WHEREAS, the Constitutional Convention that adopted the
31Constitution of 1885 created a more religiously and racially
32discriminatory document than its predecessor, with the first
33inclusion of the Blaine Amendment language alongside the racist
34separate-but-equal doctrine, and
35     WHEREAS, the racist separate-but-equal doctrine has been
36duly abolished and all vestiges thereof rightfully removed from
37the State Constitution, and the people of Florida should now be
38given the opportunity to remove the discriminatory Blaine
39Amendment language, a lasting stain upon the state's history
40that stands in opposition to the people's will and counter to
41our time-honored traditions of religious liberty and freedom,
43     WHEREAS, religiously affiliated hospitals, schools,
44adoption agencies, and other benevolent institutions have been
45of longstanding service to the people of Florida and have
46provided numerous services to those in need, and
47     WHEREAS, until 2004, no Florida court had ever applied the
48State Constitution in a reported case in a manner more
49restrictive of the use of state funds than have federal courts
50applying the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the
51United States Constitution, and
52     WHEREAS, Florida's Blaine Amendment is currently being
53enforced against religious groups and organizations of all
54denominations, stifling their development and inhibiting the
55free exercise of religious liberty, and
56     WHEREAS, courts have prohibited religiously affiliated
57schools from participating in state-funded education programs
58and religious organizations from participating in state-funded
59services to incarcerated persons, and
60     WHEREAS, such application of the Blaine Amendment language
61jeopardizes the participation of religiously affiliated
62hospitals and other benevolent institutions in Medicaid and
63other public programs, and
64     WHEREAS, those institutionalized in hospitals and prisons
65are among those most in need of spiritual nurture and
66encouragement as well as being often dependent on state-
67subsidized human services, and
68     WHEREAS, the enforcement of the Blaine Amendment language,
69barring religious organizations access to state funding and
70state-funded business on an equal basis with nonreligious
71organizations, violates the founding principles of the United
72States and this state as contained in the Declaration of
73Independence and the Preamble to the State Constitution, and
74     WHEREAS, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to
75the United States Constitution does not require any such
76absolute restrictions on the use of public funds, and
77     WHEREAS, the Establishment Clause permits the use of public
78funds in religious hospitals, schools, and other benevolent
79institutions, and
80     WHEREAS, the Establishment Clause and the religion clauses
81of the State Constitution, other than the Blaine Amendment, are
82intended to protect the religious liberties and sentiments of
83Floridians without inhibiting the free exercise of religion, and
84     WHEREAS, their religious convictions motivate some
85Floridians to establish religiously affiliated schools,
86hospitals, adoption agencies, and other benevolent institutions
87that provide valuable services to society and to receive or
88utilize such valuable services from these benevolent providers,
89which could be subsidized by the state through public programs,
91     WHEREAS, it is not necessary to prohibit all economic
92relations with religious organizations and providers in order to
93prevent an establishment of religion that would infringe on the
94religious liberties of Floridians, and
95     WHEREAS, in 2000, a plurality of the United States Supreme
96Court acknowledged that this "doctrine, born of bigotry, should
97be buried now," and
98     WHEREAS, it is necessary to amend the State Constitution to
99correct the aforementioned disconnect between the true
100sentiments and principles of Floridians and the discriminatory
101origins, intentions, and present application of the Blaine
102Amendment, in furtherance of a deeply rooted commitment to
103freedom and liberty, where rights and restrictions ought to be
104based on the merits of one's words and actions rather than on
105religious affiliation or identity, NOW, THEREFORE,
107Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
109     That the following amendment to Section 3 of Article I of
110the State Constitution is agreed to and shall be submitted to
111the electors of this state for approval or rejection at the next
112general election or at an earlier special election specifically
113authorized by law for that purpose:
116     SECTION 3.  Religious freedom.-There shall be no law
117respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting or
118penalizing the free exercise thereof. Religious freedom shall
119not justify practices inconsistent with public morals, peace, or
120safety. No individual or entity may be discriminated against or
121barred from receiving funding on the basis of religious identity
122or belief. No revenue of the state or any political subdivision
123or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury
124directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious
125denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.
126     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the following statement be
127placed on the ballot:
130     RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.-Proposing an amendment to the State
131Constitution to provide that no individual or entity may be
132discriminated against or barred from receiving funding on the
133basis of religious identity or belief and to delete the
134prohibition against using revenues from the public treasury
135directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious
136denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.