Crist Signs School Prayer Bill

June 6, 2010

Gov. Charlie Crist signed a once controversial school prayer bill that was watered down throughout the legislative session into law Friday.

The measure, HB 31, grew out of a Panhandle dispute where the Santa Rosa School District had teachers sign a consent decree not to participate in any religious activity at school. The new law prohibits districts from forcing any school personnel to not participate in religious activity. The measure also bars school officials from preaching or promoting prayers during school functions and organizing school-sponsored religious services.

“Our First Amendment rights, granted to us by the U.S. Constitution are absolute, and this law ensures that they remain that way,” said Rep. Greg Evers.

Evers said the law is designed to preempt future ACLU attacks on the First Amendment protections of freedom of speech, including religious speech, such as the recent attack in Santa Rosa County that led to then-Pace High School Student Body President Mary Allen being censored and barred from speaking at her own high school graduation, as well as Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman being charged with criminal contempt of court for offering a blessing at an adults-only event.

“I applaud the governor for signing this good bill into law today,” said Evers. “Our First Amendment rights, granted to us by the U.S. Constitution are absolute, and this law ensures that they remain that way. With the signing of this bill, students, like Mary Allen who want to thank God in a commencement speech or students who want to bow their head in silent prayer before taking a test, may now do so without fear of being questioned or stopped. This law will also serve to protect school officials, like Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman, from special interests who would like to see the First Amendment rights of students, faculty and Floridians restricted, or worse, denied.”

First amendment advocates noted that the bill could have unintended consequences though. Frank LaMonte of the he Student Press Association in Washington, D.C. Told the News Service last month that the legislation may unshackle student newspapers from the usual oversight of school administrators, effectively putting Florida among seven states – none in the Southeast – which have passed laws endorsing free expression for students.


10 Responses to “Crist Signs School Prayer Bill”

  1. David Huie Green on June 9th, 2010 1:44 pm

    “Yet if we (Christians) try and stifle another religion we are being intolerable…”

    Yep, if we try to stop anyone from following another religious belief, that is being intolerant–and unchristian. That which is not of faith is sin, therefore, forcing people to behave a way in which they do not believe is to force them to sin. Not that we couldn’t do it, just that we shouldn’t do it.


    “if you do not like what our country stands for than LEAVE the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!”

    Everyone who is not in prison or on probation is free to leave the USA. It’s a shame, however, that some think anyone who disagrees with any aspect of America should only have the option of leaving. There are people of other religious beliefs whose ancestors were living here before the first European ever showed up. Why should they leave and where should they go?

    By many current standards, the Founding Fathers were a bunch of enslaving (slave owners), adulterous, drunken revolutionaries. By their own words many of them were not what most would consider Christians. For that matter, within the group of folks calling ourselves Christians, are many who would exclude others (just consider Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, Mormons, Christian Scientists). I suspect by your standards, they would have to leave the country. Surely by some standards we would all have to leave.

    You can say, The Pilgrims came for Christian purposes, but you have to admit if you are honest that others came to get rich (Jamestown, Virginia) or to escape the long arm of the law and religious intolerance back home (much of Georgia, some of my ancestors). Even the Pilgrims left a place of religious tolerance to go to a place where they could practice intolerance on other Christians like the Quakers, maybe even us Baptists!

    Anyway, if people always had to leave the country unless their beliefs were exactly those of the founding fathers, all converts to Christianity in Israel would have had a hard time of it because it was not native to Israel or anywhere else at the time–either way back after the resurrection or even today.

    David for making no laws establishing a state religion
    or forbidding the free practice of religion
    even by non Baptists

  2. DJ Sheffield on June 8th, 2010 11:54 pm

    Uv Gotoo B. Kiddingme on June 7th, 2010 1:39 pm

    KUDOS TO YOU MY FRIEND….COULDN’T HAVE BEEN BETTER STATED! The way I see it is our country was founded on Christianity and therefore, if you do not like what our country stands for than LEAVE the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

  3. oh well on June 8th, 2010 4:22 pm

    BP Dad,

    Thank god for ppl like you who understand this whole thing.

    You you seem to b e the only one here that understands that
    it is not a teachers right to shove THEIR religion down any of
    the children in schools throat.
    It IS however, their job to teach them the three R’s and they
    surely need to start doing a heck of a lot better on that.

  4. BarrineauParkDad on June 7th, 2010 9:45 pm

    OK, Let’s say your child comes home and informs you that their homeroom teachers leads them in this prayer every morning.

    “Father Satan, I call to you from the deepst parts of my heart, I praise your name with every breath of my body, I worship you with every fibre of my being. You shown me what true strength is. you have shown me what true love is. Out of the darkness you came to show, me the true light.
    My master, my father and my friend what a great gift that is.
    Hail to the King!”

    You would be mad as hell, as would I. But given the view of some here, it would be constitutionally protected free speech and freedom of religious expression. There is no difference between that being shoved down the the throat of a christian or a christian prayer being shoved down the throat of a non-christian.

    If anyone cares to say a prayer, they may drop their head and pray away no matter where they are and no one can stop them.

    School officials on the other hand have a captive audience and shall not be allowed to impose their religious views on their students. Religion has its place and that place is not our public schools.

  5. TERESA on June 7th, 2010 6:36 pm

    Why is it that Christianity is being persecuted…….How come when we say prayers in school that those of a different religion just dont listen to it…..why must we Christians be slient in order not to offend others…….Yet if we (christians) try and stifle another religion we are being intolerable…

  6. TERESA on June 7th, 2010 6:33 pm

    Everyone should read this book….”The Beginning of the End” by John Hagee…….For a lot of people it will open your eyes and for some it won’t be surprising……

  7. Uv Gotoo B. Kiddingme on June 7th, 2010 1:39 pm

    huh, I don’t know what world you are living in. The ACLU does indeed protect freedoms, but they have taken a dramatic shift to the left and have opposed the 1st amendment as it pertains to the Christian religion. That is an unarguable fact. They support the first amendment only when it is not of Christian relevance.

  8. Thinker on June 7th, 2010 8:02 am

    And so it goes…”One nation, indivisible, with justice and freedom for all.”

  9. huh on June 6th, 2010 12:52 pm

    “The measure also bars school officials from preaching or promoting prayers during school functions and organizing school-sponsored religious services.”

    Is exactly what the ACLU was trying to do

    Also the ” ACLU attacks on the First Amendment protections ” is backwards, the ACLU are protecting freedoms .

    No one ever said you could not pray to yourself at school. If a group of people of the same religion want to go off to themselves and quietly pray, i’m sure no school or aclu has any issue with that.

    its only when you force your religion on others that might be of different religions or non religious, that the problems arise.

  10. bob johnson on June 6th, 2010 8:32 am

    This law will not give the students or teachers anymore or any less rights then they already have under the US Constitution. The law will not slow down the ACLU or any other group who wishes to go to court to advocate for a student’s constitutional rights. The law will not stop any school from signing a consent decree approved by a federal court to end a law suite. If this law was in place before the Santa Rosa School District incident it would not have changed anything. The Santa Rosa School District was violating student’s constitutional rights and agreed to stop to avoid loosing an expensive law suite.

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