Guest column: Linda McDonald ... Separation of church and state

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The separation of church and state has long been the practice in the USA and in the state of Florida. Most of us, whether or not we are religious, understand that this separation protects both the state and the church, and we have no desire to change this standard. However, Amendment 8, titled "Religious Freedom," does just that.

The title of this amendment to the Florida Constitution may lead one to believe that religious freedom is somehow being attacked; the wording of this amendment appears to stop discrimination against religions.

However, the reality is simply that Amendment 8 will allow taxpayer money to be spent to support religious institutions. Amendment 8 not only contains misleading and confusing language, it allows for taxpayer money to be given to "any church, sect, or religious denomination."

In addition, this amendment offers no oversight of these funds and may lead to significant misuse of taxpayer moneys.

Although there is no mention of religious schools in this amendment, one of the major concerns is that the passage of this amendment will result in an estimated $3.7-billion to $6.5-billion loss to public education in Florida over five years.

Over the last two years, research has shown that while some charters do better than public schools, the majority do the same or worse. Ninety-five percent of children go to public schools, and that is where public funding for education should go.

As a representative of the teachers and education support personnel of Collier County, I would ask each of you to not only carefully read Amendment 8, but to find out for yourself what the real consequences of this amendment are for our community and state.

Simply put, a "yes" vote eliminates the constitutional ban on giving money to religious organizations, while a "no" vote maintains the ban on public funding of religious organizations. Please vote no!

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