February 2004 Church & State | AU Bulletin

A proposal to water down the church-state separation provisions of the Georgia state constitution is drawing a cool response from citizens, according to a recent poll.

Last fall, Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) said he would ask lawmakers to approve a bill that would place before voters this November an initiative to amend the state constitution to allow state funding of faith-based social service providers.

"Georgia's Constitution often unfairly prohibits the state from funding the best, most dedicated human service providers," Perdue said, in a press release issued in December by the Georgia Republican Party.

But critics, including Americans United for Separation of Church and State, say the plan is unnecessary and would destroy the right of citizens to support only the religious institutions of their free choice.

A statewide poll issued in December by the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research company found that 51 percent of respondents objected to the proposed constitutional amendment.

Despite the public opposition, the Georgia Senate approved the governor's plan Jan. 15 by a 40-15 vote. The measure now moves to the House for consideration.

Georgia, along with 36 other states, includes a provision in its constitution barring state funding of religious institutions.