Published February 19, 2004
On Dec. 22, 2003, Archbishop John F. Donoghue and Bishop J. Kevin Boland, Bishop of Savannah, met at the State Capitol with Gov. Sonny Perdue. The bishops discussed their support for the Faith and Family Services Amendment, which the governor introduced at the 2004 session of the Georgia General Assembly. The resolution is intended to reverse the effect of the Blaine Amendment to the Georgia Constitution, which prohibits taking any money “from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, cult or religious denomination or of any sectarian institution” (Article I, Section II, Paragraph VII).
The Blaine Amendment is very different from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Since the adoption of the Constitution, the First Amendment has been the touchstone of religious freedom in the United States. The First Amendment is simply stated and familiar to all students but has resulted in many lawsuits and often conflicting interpretations from the Supreme Court.
The bishops also expressed support for all forms of pro-life legislation, most particularly the Woman’s Right To Know bill and for continued funding for prison chaplain programs.
To the best knowledge of those at the Capitol, this was the first meeting in the Capitol between a governor and the Catholic bishops of Georgia.