Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Two Ballot Issues Around Nation Impact Church-State Concerns

In today's off-year elections around the United States, at least two issues impact church-state concerns. In Berkley, Michigan voters will decide whether to approve an amendment to the city charter to require the display of a nativity scene on city hall property. (See prior posting.) Sunday's Observer & Eccentric reports that a write-in candidate for mayor, 76-year old Maybelle Fraser, who supports the nativity display, decided to mount a campaign against incumbent 73-year old mayor, Marilyn Stephan, over the nativity scene issue. Stephan was among the majority of council who voted 6-1 to donate the nativity scene to the Berkley Clergy Association for display at local churches.

In Utah, voters are casting ballots on a school voucher program that includes vouchers that can be used in private religious schools-- so long as the school enrolls at least 40 students. Yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune carries a Q&A on the proposal. Vouchers of $500 per student would be available regardless of family income, with vouchers of up to $3000 per student for lower income families. The voucher program was passed by the legislature in February (see prior posting), but opponents gathered enough signatures to force this referendum on the law.

UPDATE: Berkley, Michigan's proposed charter amendment to require display of a nativity scene on city property was defeated 55%- 45% in Tuesday's election. (Detroit Free Press.) Also on Tuesday, Utah's voucher program was defeated by a substantial majority. With most of the precincts in, over 60% of voters had voted to kill the voucher law. (Salt Lake Tribune.)