Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Sun Burn

As if poor Florida didn't have enough trouble trying to teach 21st century science in its schools!

Now a minion of Dubya's not-much-smarter brother is trying to gut the Florida Constitution's guarantee of separation of church and state, which, as it stands, is admirably clear: "No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution."

As revealed by Stephen Goldstein of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Patricia Levesque, Jeb Bush's top education adviser while he was governor and a graduate of Bob Jones University, now heads two of the younger Bush's foundations. But that's not all she does:

Though influencing legislation appears to jeopardize the tax-exempt status of the nonprofits she heads, as a member of the state Taxation and Budget Reform Commission she is now not only lobbying, but proposing a constitutional amendment to turn Florida into a religious state, in the image of her God -- not yours. ...

Levesque/Jeb "would create exceptions to two existing provisions in the Florida Constitution by saying that the Legislature can enact programs using private providers 'in every field as permitted by law' without regard to their religious nature." In addition, "the commission proposal ... would lift an existing constitutional ban against direct or indirect state aid of any kind to churches and other religious organizations and institutions."

Ostensibly intended to permit restoration of Bush's school voucher program, struck down by the Florida Supreme Court as unconstitutional, and to provide "choice for health care, for elder care, for juvenile justice care, for substance abuse, for homelessness," Goldstein sees it -- to coin a phrase -- as the thin edge of the wedge:

But jumpin' Jesus, she's staging a coup d'etat! As every kindergartner knows, the constitutional firewall between religion and the state isn't discrimination, but protection — from zealots like Levesque/Jeb who want to subvert the state to their/any church.

In addition, don't let all that neutral talk about "choice for health care and elder care" and other care fool you. If the Levesque/Jeb amendment passes, it will open the floodgates so your tax dollars fund the religious radicals' comprehensive reactionary agenda: blocking stem cell research; depriving women of their reproductive rights; putting youths at risk of infectious disease by insisting upon abstinence-only sex education programs, which are proven failures. Before long, they'll see to it that "Intelligent Design" is the only theory of life Florida schools may teach.

What they need in Florida now isn't a better sun block ... it's a better dumb block!

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