Amendment 8 revives century-old religion debate
In many ways, Amendment 8 boils down to this:
When Jerod Powers, 38, left prison in Jacksonville, he had only a change of clothes, his release papers and pocket change. He went to Prisoners of Christ halfway house — an organization that receives some state financial assistance — where he got food, clothes, substance abuse counseling and help finding a job at a lawn care business.
Powers also got spiritual guidance.
That case, now playing out in court, asks whether Prisoners of Christ violated a state constitutional ban on the use of taxpayer dollars for promoting religion.
The New York-based Council for Secular Humanism, which is suing the halfway house and the state, contends the Department of Corrections's $22,000 contract violates the Blaine Amendment, a ban on state money for religious organizations.
Enter Amendment 8, which seeks to make the lawsuit, and other potential legal challenges, moot.
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