Florida state legislators have introduced legislation that would allow Floridians to use religion as a means to harm others

Click here for a simple way to write your Florida representative

Quote from above link:
Unwilling to accept the advances in LGBT rights, women’s equality, and reproductive health, religious extremists in Florida are asking for a trump card to undermine this progress. They want to allow individuals and corporations to use religion as an excuse to deny healthcare, refuse to provide services, and disobey laws protecting Floridians from discrimination and abuse.

As the legislative session begins this week, we already know that Florida state legislators have introduced legislation that would allow Floridians to use religion as a means to harm others. These types of bills do not represent true religious liberty. No one should be allowed to use religion as an excuse to refuse service for, deny healthcare to, or threaten the safety of others.

You can join us in this fight today by contacting your state senator and representative. Tell them that you oppose any bill that would authorize discrimination in the name of religion.


Taxpayer money and charter schools

Quote from the article:
In January the Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote the school district and provided photos of the charter school students attending an event in a chapel where there was a large cross …….  Anita Henry-Smith, Duval’s charter schools supervisor, warned Seacoast Charter’s officials that the event was a default on the school’s charter...

end quotes

Click here to find your representative and write

Please write your Florida representative and ask them to include the following suggestions into law:

Suggestions by the League of Women Voters:
1. A public charter school may be housed in a religious institution so long as secular identity is maintained and the student body reflects broad racial/ethnic/religious and economic diversity.

2. Charter public schools must report financial information in a format that is adequate for comparison with other public schools, particularly regarding facilities ownership and management contracts.
3. Members of the charter schools’ governing board MUST NOT have any financial interest in the charter school. Legislators serving on education or appropriation committees must recuse themselves on votes related to charter school finance if they have any financial interest in one or more charter schools.
4. As a recipient of public education funds charter schools should meet the procurement standards applicable to other public institutions as stated in statute and rule regarding competitive bids, purchasing of services, equipment, supplies and sites. Records of all transaction and procedures should meet all public records laws for full disclosure. Charter schools that acquire their facilities using public funds must assure that the facility reverts to public ownership at termination of the charter. If the facility is subject to a mortgage, the mortgage must disclose and protect the public’s interest in the facility. A conversion of an existing public school to a public charter school should only be authorized by the local governing school board retaining full public ownership of the facility and the assets associated with the school.

RFRA in Florida

Click here to write your rep about this issue

Summary of HB 401 currently before the Florida legislature:   Groups can be exempt from the laws that others must follow IF they say they have an objection to the law based on a moral conviction.

What if the person’s moral compass has lost direction?   What if the person’s moral conviction is advocating for an act that will harm or deny benefits to OTHERS?

Quote from this Link to what AU is saying about RFRA  : The federal RFRA was meant to be a shield to safeguard religious freedom, not a sword to be used to harm others.  Because people and corporations have been trying to use RFRA in recent years as a way to take away the rights of someone else, however, AU believes RFRA must be fixed.

Link to current Florida RFRA

Link to an article about the bill seeking to expand RFRA in Florida

Link to proposed bill that will expand RFRA in Florida

Why do we want laws on the books that exempt some groups?  Why not fair play?  If the law or rule isn’t worthwhile, why do any of us have to follow it?  Simple example:  If you want to allow hijabs in the work place, then allow everyone to wear a hat or other head garment.  Why not?  What’s the harm?  It is just a hat or scarf.

Quote from Marci Hamilton’s book God vs. The Gavel: At the same time,  Schools must guard against enforcing their dress codes unevenly. If the school is willing to wink at the kid wearing a hat for fun, it cannot then punish the girl who shows up In a hijab.

There should be a different level of scrunity when your behavior harms or deprives others of benefits that most other people receive.  IF you don’t want to fill prescriptions for birth control because you have a moral conviction against birth control then don’t become a pharmacist.    If you don’t want to serve alcohol because of your moral convictions, then don’t apply for a job that includes that as part of the job duties.   If you don’t want to marry people that don’t follow your own moral convictions, then don’t apply for a job that includes issuing marriage licenses as part of the job duties.

I am a feminist.   Equal rights.   BUT I don’t think that should mean that a woman who can’t do heavy lifting should apply for a job that requires heavy lifting then ask for an exemption.   Please don’t misinterpret me.  I know plenty of women can do heavy lifting.   All I am trying to say is that IF your job conflicts with your moral convictions, then get another job.  Am I wrong?  If so, please tell me why.

I understand as a country that we are afraid of others persecuting us for our beliefs.   That feeling makes us passionate about the religious liberty (or freedom of conscious) clause in the First Amendment.   I am passionate about that also.  BUT there is a limit.   You shouldn’t be able to use it to harm others or deny others benefits.

Marci Hamilton in her article states: “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) has allowed religious accommodation to harm too many affected by the believers’ conduct.”

If someone else’s religion scares you, then shouldn’t you fight for stronger church/state separation?  Shouldn’t you fight to make sure everyone follows the laws that are designed to protect the people?

Please know WHY RFRA needs to be fixed so that it is not used to harm or deprive others of benefits that most people are free to enjoy.  Read one of Marci Hamilton’s books about the issue.  She gives lots of examples.

Link to New York Times article written by Marci Hamilton

Perhaps because the First Amendment is so vague, we need some form of RFRA BUT it shouldn’t be used to harm people. It should be used for the government to encourage individuals to be more loving and STOP discriminating based on sex, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Marci gives an example of a child not being allowed to wear the Star of David but other kids being able to wear a cross at school. Rather than treating different religions differently, the school could have taken the opportunity to talk about the First Amendment and the desire of the founders of our country to escape from religious persecution so prevalent at the time our country was founded