The bill does have its share of detractors with some fearing that it infringes too heavily upon the separation of church and state.

Last Thursday the Florida State Senate voted to approve legislation that would effectively abolish previous rules that prevented religious services and events from being conducted on school property. The vote was 23 for with 13 against and was almost wholly along party lines with a single democrat, Senator Daphne Campbell voting in favor of the legislation. The bill was introduced by Republican Senator Dennis Baxley who heralded it as a much needed way for lawmakers in the state to take a stand and allow students and teachers to practice their constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion, regardless of what personal beliefs they hold.

With the new legislation in place Florida’s public schools are obliged to allow students to lead religious prayers during school operating hours , grant access to school facilities for student religious groups and allow students to pray at school-run events, activities that were previously strictly prohibited in the state.

Proponents of the bill, which includes Senate President Joe Negron, are of the opinion it would serve an important role in reversing what they view as an unnecessary and overbearing clamp down on free speech such as preventing the wearing of religious themed jewelry such as a crucifix or including references to religious figures in their school work. The bill in its current form not only allows religious expression but also shields students and teachers from persecution or discrimination in any form for their religious views.

However, the bill does have its share of detractors with some fearing that it infringes too heavily upon the separation of church and state, essentially flying in the face of the intentions of the founding fathers. The move comes at a particularly charged time in U.S. politics with many in both camps seeing this action as a possible sign of things to come, for better or worse. While Florida is not the only state to allow religious expression in public schools it is in the minority.

It should be stated that despite the concerns that have been raised and fears of wider reaching implications cannot yet be ascertained, the legislation in its current form appears to be quite well-crafted, with little ambiguous wording, treating all religions with equal value and limiting its application to Florida's public schools.


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