The Florida House advanced a bill that would allow school administrators to pray in public schools throughout the state if students initiate those prayers.
HB 303 unanimously passed the House Education Committee Thursday. The measure would violate the decades-old federal provision separating church and state, and may likely be challenged at some point.
However, at the committee meeting in Tallahassee, there were no oppositional voices as the bill moved passed its second hurdle. The bill’s next stop is a vote on the House floor.
The only concern from members of the committee seemed to come from Rep. Rene Plasencia, who wondered if there was a provision to prevent “satanic” groups from being allowed to express their rights. Plasencia is a former teacher.
“We prayed in school in Orange County, but the problem was that a demonic group came to our school,” the lawmaker said. “Is there anything (in the bill) that prevents a satanic group from coming to a school?”
Rep. Kimberly Daniels, co-sponsor of the bill, said it didn’t, but cited that six other states in the country had passed such measures without incidents involving so-called satanic groups.
Conversely, a big concern from those in the public, was discrimination against Christianity. Several citizens addressed the committee, voicing their support for the measure, including special interest groups.
“We hope you can support this most wonderful bill,” said Shawn Frost, who was at the meeting representing the Florida Coalition of School Board Members.
Rep. Patricia Williams, a freshman legislator and co-sponsor of the bill, addressed committee members in closing the proposal.
“If we as legislators can pray if we want to, then why can’t our children?”