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Religious Freedom Is Focus of Discussion This Week on Miami Law Panel

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As the election season heats up, a referendum question facing voters on the Florida ballot in November will be at the center of a panel discussion this Thursday at Miami Law.

The panel, organized by a student organization called the Secular Law Society, will focus on Amendment 8, which would allow taxpayer money to flow to religious schools and houses of worship, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The group, which describes itself on its website as a nonpartisan educational organization "dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans," will be represented on the panel by Maggie Garrett, its national legislative director, who is based in Washington D.C.

The Americans United group says that passage of the amendment "would strip the religious freedom protections currently enshrined in the Florida Constitution, thus allowing for direct funding of religious organizations that provide faith-based social services and opening the door to taxpayer funded vouchers for religious schools."

Proponents of the amendment, a group called Floridians for Religious Freedom, had agreed to participate in the discussion and intended to send Nathan Adams, a partner with Holland & Knight in Tallahassee, to argue the measure's merits, but pulled out last week.

Charles Haskell, a second-year law student who is president of the Secular Law Society, said the panel would proceed nonetheless and that other speakers may be added. Titled "Florida's Amendment 8: Freedom or Folly?", the panel is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 6, at 12:30 p.m. in room F-309.