Written by Don Byrd
In case you had not heard, Tuesday, November 6 is Election Day. In addition to the races for various federal and state elected offices, voters will be deciding various ballot initiatives across the country. A scan of the statewide items up for a vote shows fewer than usual that are related to religious liberty. There are two, however, I will be watching – one in Alabama and the other in Arizona. A brief summary of each is below. Check back on Tuesday night for the results!
In Alabama, Amendment 1 would add language to the state constitution authorizing the right to display the Ten Commandments on government property, including “property owned or administered by a public school or public body.” The measure requires that any such display complies with constitutional requirements. It goes on to state:
Every person shall be at liberty to worship God according to the dictates of his or her own conscience. No person shall be compelled to attend, or, against his or her consent, to contribute to the erection or support of any place of religious worship, or to pay tithes, taxes, or other rates for the support of any minister of the gospel.
Amendment 1 also prohibits the use of government funds to defend the amendment’s constitutionality. It does not address the use of public funds to create or erect the display of the Ten Commandments.
In Arizona, Proposition 305 would uphold a state law allowing up to 30,000 students to be given public tax dollars to be used for private-school tuition including religious schools. The expansion of the school voucher program, knowns as the Empowerment Scholarship Account program was set to be in effect in August 2017 but was put on hold pending the outcome of this ballot measure.
If there is another ballot measure you know of -state or local – related to religious liberty issues, send me a message so I can add it to this list.