Florida’s 2012 School Prayer Bill Passes

We recently wrote Florida School Prayer Bill for 2012. That was SB 98, sponsored by rapturous Ronda Storms and Senator Gary Siplin. Their bill says this:

Section 1.(1)A district school board may adopt a policy allowing an inspirational message to be delivered by students at a student assembly. The policy must provide that:

Section 1.(1) (a) Students who are responsible for organizing any student-led portion of a student assembly shall:

Section 1.(1) (a) 1. Have sole discretion in determining whether an inspirational message is to be delivered.

Section 1.(1) (a) 2.Choose the student volunteers who will deliver an inspirational message. The student volunteers shall be solely responsible for the preparation and content of the inspirational message.

Section 1.(1) (b) School district personnel may not:

Section 1.(1) (b) 1. Participate in, or otherwise influence, the determination of whether an inspirational message is to be delivered or select the student volunteers who will deliver the inspirational message.

Section 1.(1) (b) 2. Monitor or otherwise review the content of a student volunteer’s inspirational message.

Section 1. (2) The purpose of this section is to provide students with the opportunity for formal or ceremonious observance of an occasion or event.

Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2012.

The bill had passed the Florida Senate and was headed for the House, where it was introduced by Charles E. Van Zant.

Today we read in the Orlando Sentinel the news that House passes bills allowing school prayer and banning Internet cafes. We’re not interested in the internet cafe bill, but school prayer always gets our attention — not only because it’s so often intertwined with creationism, but also on constitutional grounds. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The 88-27 vote on what opponents called a “school prayer” bill sent the measure to Gov. Rick Scott, who’s expected to sign it.

Wow — 88 to 27. Isn’t that wonderful? The story continues:

The proposal, SB 98, would permit school boards to adopt standards permitting students to lead public prayer at any school event, even mandatory gatherings like student assemblies. The prayer would have to be initiated and delivered by students, with no involvement by faculty or staff.

That’s the same as the Senate bill we wrote about before. Now it’s going to the Governor for signature. Aren’t you thrilled? Let’s read on:

Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, said he was hopeful that returning inspirational messages to schools – more than 50 years after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed mandatory prayer — would help cure some problems that schools faced today.

What problems will this bill cure? Poor math and science education? The news story continues:

“Before we moved [he probably meant “removed”] inspirational messages, the No. 1 problem was talking out of turn,” he said. “Now, it’s drug abuse.”

This bill is going to solve the schools’ drug problem? Of course it will! It’s so obvious, now that it’s been explained to us. Here’s more:

The bill was decried by many Democrats as unconstitutional and as unfair to minority students. Rep. Marty Kiar, D-Davie, also said he was concerned about the messages students could choose to express, since adult supervision would not be allowed, noting a student could say the Holocaust didn’t occur or argue for racial intolerance.

“What really concerns me is that the bill sponsor basically said that a student can even preach something that could endanger the health and safety of our students,” he said. “They could advocate for drug abuse, the could advocate for gang violence and that scares me.”

That’s rather alarmist. We’re confident that with student-contrived inspirational messages, everything will be wonderful and all of society’s problems will be solved. We congratulate the Florida legislature for their brilliant work.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Florida’s 2012 School Prayer Bill Passes

  1. Taken literally, you will have the inmates running the asylum.

    But we know that someone in admin will be running the show….
    I mean prayer meeting.

  2. > “…he was hopeful that returning inspirational messages to schools … would help cure some problems that schools faced today.”

    Problems? Like not enough lawsuits?? Go ahead, Florida school districts, adopt such a policy, this won’t cause you any trouble at all.

  3. This bill is very similar to a small part of the ‘Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimation Act’ that is now law in Texas. The same bill has been through the Oklahoma Legislature and passed, but vetoed by the former Democratic Governor Henry. The same bill came back last year, with the same authors and passed 9-7 in the House Education Committee, but was not placed on the House floor for a vote. It is still possible for the bill to be voted on, however.

    These are involved and bizarre bills that would allow religion into many aspects of public school activities. The Texas School Board Association worked hard against the bill and now advises school districts not to try and follow the provisions of the bill – lawsuits,,you know, etc.

  4. Vhutchion says: “This bill is very similar to …”

    Not surprising. The same ideas are circulated around, often by groups with “Family” in their names. What works, at least temporarily, in one state will find its way to other states. In other words, these are not local issues.

  5. This should be an golden opportunity for atheists in Florida to spread the message. Start working on those “inspirational messages”!

  6. They don’t understand what they have done. They think they are paving the way for Christian inspirational messages. I can’t wait for news about a Muslim kid not being allowed to inspire, or a Wiccan, or a Hindu…

  7. Jason said:

    They don’t understand what they have done.

    That’s correct on many levels.

  8. What is totally sweet is that the legislators are in no financial peril no matter what they do. They can legislate the sky is pink and that alligators can vote, but only Republican, with impunity. It doesn’t matter!

    What a job! You can go down there and fiddle while Miami burns and nobody cares! Woo hoo! Par-TAY!! Pass the drink vouchers we are going dancing!

    It doesn’t matter one bit. The state can go bankrupt, people can die, services can shut down and who cares? Who gives an alligator’s tail?


    So, screw ’em. If the voters want two all-beef patties, lettuce, cheese, special sauce on a toasted communion wafer, who am I to object?

  9. Ah, what the hell. Florida’s going to need all the prayers it can get. After all, they’ll be the first to be inundated by global warming.