Gov. DeSantis Just Officially Brought Back the Opportunity for Prayer in Schools
June 15, 2021
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday that will require public schools to hold a moment of silence at the beginning of each day.
The bill will give students the opportunity to “reflect and be able to pray as they see fit,” WJXT-TV reported.
“The idea that you can just push God out of every institution and be successful, I’m sorry, our Founding Fathers did not believe that,” DeSantis said.
HB 529, which will go into effect on July 1, will put in place one- to two-minute moments of silence in public school classrooms and at a Jewish community center, The Shul of Bal Harbour.
“The Legislature finds that in today’s hectic society too few persons are able to experience even a moment of quiet reflection before plunging headlong into the activities of daily life,” the bill reads, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“Young persons are particularly affected by the absence of an opportunity for a moment of quiet reflection. The Legislature finds that our youth, and society as a whole, would be well served if students in the public schools were afforded a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day.”
First-period teachers will be required to institute the moment of silence in public schools, WJXT reported.
Teachers aren’t allowed to “make suggestions as to the nature of any reflection that a student may engage in during the moment of silence,” and students “may not interfere with other students’ participation,” according to the new law.
Teachers also are required to encourage parents to talk with their children and “make suggestions as to the best use” of the moments of silence.Should more states pass a law such as this?
Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez praised the bill and said it will “allow for religious freedom and allow for students to have a minute or two at the start of their day.”
During debate on the House floor, Republican bill sponsor Rep. Randy Fine said the bill was “not a prayer in school bill” and would allow students to “get centered before the start of the day,” the Sentinel reported.
Democratic state Rep. Omari Hardy voted against the bill and accused the Republican sponsors of lying about the intent of it.
“The Republican who sponsored the bill said it wasn’t about prayer in school. (Of course it was!) But when you question their motives, or their honesty, it’s called a personal attack & deemed out of order,” Hardy tweeted.
“No. The Republicans lie, and we need to call them on it every time.”
U.S. Supreme Court precedent from the 1960s has banned state-required prayer in public schools, according to the Sentinel.
HB 529 gets around this by not mentioning “prayer” and calling for a “moment of silence.”