Saturday, March 03, 2012

Legislators Put Prayer Back in Florida Schools

Once Gov. Rick Scott signs the bill that passed easily in the Republican-controlled legislature, Florida students will be permitted to pray publicly at school events, including graduations, assemblies, games, and more.

-- From "Florida bill on 'inspirational messages' in schools advances" by Michael Peltier, Reuters 3/2/12

Votes in both chambers were largely along party lines. Passage came over the objections of civil libertarians and some Jewish members, who said the measure has the potential to subject religious and ethnic minorities to spiritual messages they don't agree with but will be pressured to endure.

But backers of the bill said it was not intended to push a certain religious view.

"The purpose of education is to inspire, not just to get a job but to inspire our children to virtue to wisdom to reach beyond what they believe they are capable of themselves," said Representative Mike Bileca, a Miami Republican.

"This is not about prayer," said Fred Costello, another Republican lawmaker. "But I hope many of our students choose to use their time for an inspirational message to offer a prayer, Whether that be to God, to Jesus, to Mohammad to Buddha or the Great Spirit, I don't care."

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From "School prayer bill likely to become law" by Kathleen Haughney, Tallahassee Bureau, Orlando Sentinel 3/1/12

The vote ends several years of effort by Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, and Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, who has a Masters of Divinity and who also attended Western Baptist Theological Seminary. Siplin's measure passed the Senate a week ago.

Van Zant said that the bill was not about prayer, but about "inspirational" messaging and free speech. He also said student-crafted messages — faculty and staff are banned from involvement — would bring a tone of respect and civility to the classroom.

School boards across Florida are still grappling with the implications of the "inspirational messages" legislation and whether to even try to establish policies to allow student-led evocations.

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From "School Prayer at Public Events Likely to Become Fla. Law" by Jonathan Moormann, Christian Post Contributor 3/2/12

Current state law already allows for two minutes of silent prayer or meditation at the beginning of the school day, but S.B. 98 would allow students to give short speeches, including prayers, at convocations and noncompulsory school events.

The bill also stipulates that these inspirational messages must be "nonsectarian and nonproselytizing in nature."

Opponents of the bill, however, fear that there might not be enough control over what students can say during these messages.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.