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Republicans on Florida’s Constitution panel are intent on smashing the separation between church and state

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Like most states, Florida’s constitution has a boilerplate clause on the separation of church and state that resembles that of the United States constitution. But a startling move by the state’s Constitution Revision Commission, which reviews the Florida constitution every 20 years, may lead to the removal of the prohibition of the state giving funds to religious institutions.

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As Hemant Mehta at The Friendly Atheist writes, the Florida CRC’s Declaration of Rights subcommittee voted 5-1 last week “in favor of a proposal that would eliminate that ban on funding religion.”

The proposal the committee voted overwhelmingly for would “remove the prohibition against using public revenues in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or any sectarian institution,” a screenshot of the subcommittee’s measure shows.

As Mehta noted, all 37 members of the CRC are Republicans, as they’re nearly all appointed by the state’s governor, leaders of its House and Senate and the Florida Supreme Court’s Chief Justice.

Jiri Hulcr, an assistant professor at the University of Florida, attended the meeting and called it “eye-opening” in an editorial for The Gainesville Sun published earlier on Wednesday.

“What I witnessed was not prudent and unbiased deliberation,” Hulcr wrote, “but a show scripted for public consumption. Several commissioners did not even pretend to represent the people, and instead were justifying a clear agenda. Commissioner John Stemberger, for example, was beaming with excitement as he proceeded to lecture about the benefits of connecting, not separating, church and state. ‘Faith is a public good … Our job [as the commission] is not to be successful, it is to be faithful,’ Stemberger said.”

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Hulcr also noted that the proposal is likely to pass the entire Republican-dominated committee, which would then lead to the question of whether state funds should be used to fund religious institutions could be posed to Florida voters as early as 2018.

The separation of church and state is also at risk in the a provision in the Republican tax bill passed by the United States Senate early last Saturday morning that would allow churches to endorse or oppose political candidates from the pulpit and retain their non-profit status. “Pulpit politicking” has been prohibited by the Johnson Amendment since 1954 — and the GOP tax bill did not include measures to repeal it.


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Trump doubles down after being confronted with his claim Biden wants an ‘invasion’ of suburbs

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At Wednesday's press conference, President Donald Trump was confronted with his claim that former Vice President Joe Biden would trigger an "invasion" of suburban neighborhoods — widely considered to be a racist dog whistle for affordable housing that will attract more people of color.

“What do you mean by invasion?” the reporter asked.

“They’re going to open up areas of your neighborhoods — they’re going to destroy suburbia,” insisted Trump. He added that "by the way, 30 percent of the people in suburbia are minorities," evidently on the defensive from claims that he was appealing to racism.

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Newsweek attacked after editorial column starts a new birther conspiracy about Kamala Harris

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The opening of the story already speculates that Harris is somehow ineligible for the position because she's also somehow ineligible to be president.

"The fact that Senator Kamala Harris has just been named the vice presidential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has some questioning her eligibility for the position," said the Chapman University professor. "The 12th Amendment provides that 'no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.' And Article II of the Constitution specifies that '[n]o person except a natural born citizen...shall be eligible to the office of President.' Her father was (and is) a Jamaican national, her mother was from India, and neither was a naturalized U.S. citizen at the time of Harris' birth in 1964. That, according to these commentators, makes her not a 'natural born citizen'—and therefore ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president."

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Trump calls funding for the Post Office ‘political’ — and holds up COVID-19 stimulus to stop it

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At Wednesday's White House press briefing, President Donald Trump launched into yet another attack on mail-in voting — and explicitly made it clear he'll hold up COVID-19 stimulus to prevent funding for the Postal Service.

Funding USPS, Trump complained, would be "political" — and he claimed that Democrats are the ones "holding up" the negotiations because "how are they gonna do it if they don't have the money to do it?" He reiterated that he believes the use of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election, a practice that has been in use for decades, "will be one of the greatest frauds in American history."

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