Florida legislators recently filed bills to protect “religious expression in public schools.” According to two state lawmakers, Florida needs a new law to protect “religious expression in public schools” and to make sure students aren’t discriminated against if they share religious beliefs in their school work. They filed the bills (SB 436, HB 303) to create a new “religious liberties act.”
Baxley, one of the lawmakers, in a statement, said he introduced the measure to make sure public schools safeguard students’ rights. “The First Amendment clearly protects our right to free speech, which includes religious expression, and we must work to ensure that right is maintained,” he said.
On February 10, the show Good Day Orlando had a mini-debate on the bills featuring Troy Schmidt (a local pastor) and David Williamson (of the Central Florida Freethought Community). Kudos, the host, was doing a good job moderating and asking interesting questions.
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In this short but very educative TV debate, Troy Schmidt has expressed his concerns about faith and said “we’ve taken religion out” of schools, adding that we’re now sending a message to new generations that “religion is bad.” He said the bills were necessary because atheist groups (like the Freedom From Religion Foundation) were warning teachers against promoting Christianity in the classroom.
On the other side, stance of David Williamson, the other participant in the debate, was more neutral and realistic. He made a great point about where the place for religion is and it’s definitely not public school: “Let’s leave religion at home, let’s leave it in the church and let’s allow students to have those rights but not in bond with teachers and coaches with them.” Also, Christianity is just one religion among many others and it could further complicate law enforcement.
After so many struggles for freedom from religion in public institutions, it seems that the suggested bills are trying to restore faith in a big way.
Photo Credits: Patheos