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Georgia Gov. seeks to gut Church-State provisions.

An effort by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to add an amendment to the state constitution gutting the church-state provisions of that document has stalled for now.

Georgia senators voted 35-20 on Feb. 10 in favor of sending the amendment to the voters but tell short of the two-thirds vote required. A vote to reconsider was pending as Church & State went to press.

Republicans took control of both the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate after November's elections. In the wake of that, Perdue, a Republican, said he would ask lawmakers to approve a so-called "Faith and Family Services Amendment," which he says will pave the way for a "faith-based" initiative in the state.

Critics said the proposed constitutional amendment would essentially eviscerate the state's current constitutional provision, which calls for a strict separation of church and state. The current language reads in part, "No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, cult, or religious denomination or of any sectarian institution."

Opponents also said the amendment is not needed, pointing out that religious groups can accept tax aid as long as they don't use it for sectarian purposes. Some speculated that the governor's ultimate goal is to bring private-school vouchers to the state.

The Georgia Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State strongly opposed the amendment and urged residents to speak out.

In a Feb. 2 editorial, the Macon Telegraph opposed the move.

"This is one case where the Constitution should be left alone," the Telegraph argued. "And any vote against the proposed bill by members of either party should not be seen or labeled as an anti-faith, anti-God vote. That would be an unfair and dishonest characterization of their intent, to protect the constitutionally mandated separation of state-sponsored religious doctrine."
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Title Annotation:Around The States
Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U5GA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
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