Dear Friend of Religious Liberty:
Over the last 12 years, we have been watching the Florida state lawmakers’ attempts to fund private and religious schools in Florida with tax dollars. It has become apparent they will stop at nothing to do away with your state constitutional protection that prohibits tax dollars going to support religious activity. Do not be fooled, Amendment 8 is NOT a religious freedom amendment; it is a do-away-with religious freedom amendment. Contrary to what others are saying it does NOT advance religious liberty.
The religious liberty department in the Southern Union has prayerfully considered all the ramifications to this particular amendment and it is our belief that this amendment is extremely dangerous to religious freedom. Many in the Christian community may be supporting this amendment as a means of getting more support for their special church projects. In the religious liberty department we believe that church autonomy is more important than access to tax dollars. Those who understand how delicate a balance we have between church and state also understand how this amendment is the first of many potentially dangerous policy moves that would take us down a road to intolerance, prejudicial bias, unhealthy competition between churches (for tax dollars) and government watch dogs within churches. Students of history know, “There are no government shekels without government shackles.”
As Seventh-day Adventists we have historically been protectors of both state and federal constitutions; using extreme caution when constitutional changes are proposed. We should exercise this same caution in Florida when voting on any proposed amendments, especially Amendment 8.
It is not our design to tell members how to vote. With that in mind the attached handouts are meant to send church members to the voting booths as informed voters, who understand what is at stake. We believe it is appropriate to present this issue before your members in church. While we cannot and should not endorse political candidates we are allowed to speak on issues or policies, especially those that effect religious freedom and church autonomy.
Religion with its hand out to government cannot fulfill its prophetic duty. It is my hope that you will share this information with other Florida voters who may not be aware of the dangers of voting in favor of Amendment 8.
Amireh Al-Haddad, Director
Public Affairs & Religious Liberty
Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists