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Can Public Policy Rooted In Bigotry Serve A Noble Purpose?: The Tampa-Bay Times Outrageously Says "Yes"

TAMPA, Fla., Oct. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by Citizens for Religious Freedom and Non-Discrimination:

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It is not shocking that the Tampa Bay Times would oppose Amendment 8 – the Religious Freedom Amendment.  The paper's opposition to common sense center-right policies is legendary.

But the paper's editorial board's breathtaking pronouncement – that "Florida's Blaine Amendment was born of anti-Catholic bigotry, but it has served a more noble purpose." – is deeply offensive – not only to people of all religions, but to anyone who belongs to a group that has ever been the target of bigoted policies.

"Today the Tampa Bay Times acknowledged that the provision in the Florida Constitution that Amendment 8 seeks to repeal is rooted in anti-Catholic bigotry – yet they write that it serves a 'noble purpose' – nothing could be more scandalous or hypocritical," said Frank Murphy, director of communications, Diocese of St. Petersburg.  "Bigotry is simply never acceptable, regardless of the outcome," said Murphy.  "The end never justifies the means when any aspect of bigotry – racial or religious – is brought to bear."

"If any center-right organization or politician proposed a policy rooted in bigotry because it had a  'noble purpose,' the Times would make it their mission to drive that voice from the public square.  For the Times to show tolerance for relics of bigotry demonstrates how closely they are linked with so-called "progressive" interests who think it's OK for government to discriminate against those of faith who provide secular services to the public," said Mike Hill, director, Citizens for Religious Freedom and Non-Discrimination and former member of the Florida Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

The Blaine Amendment failed to become part of the U.S. Constitution after the Civil War, but the irrational and bigoted thinking behind it did find its way into 37 state constitutions.  Its primary purpose was to discriminate against Catholics and in Florida to discriminate against African –Americans, a fact no serious legal scholar denies. 

Amendment 8 will right this wrong and eliminate discrimination against all churches and religious institutions, which provide social services to Floridians - no matter their religious affiliations or beliefs.  Amendment 8 will, in fact, preserve the hundreds of public-private partnerships between government and social service organizations potentially in jeopardy because of lawsuits invoking the Blaine Amendment. During the past several years, state government has contracted for nearly $400 million worth of services from organizations of faith.

Contrary to opponent's claims, Amendment 8 would not undermine public education through vouchers. Vouchers remain unconstitutional and nothing in Amendment 8 addresses schools. The amendment also has no effect on the state establishment clause, free exercise clause and public morals clause.

"However, these other opposition arguments simply pale in comparison to the Times position that bigotry is OK if the purpose is noble," said Hill.

Yes on 8
Citizens for Religious Freedom and Non-Discrimination ("Yes on 8") is focused on ending discrimination against religious organizations and preserving much-need social services through the passage of Amendment 8. Visit and on Facebook and Twitter  @sayyeson8.

Media Contact:
Jim Frankowiak

SOURCE Citizens for Religious Freedom and Non-Discrimination