Florida Lawmakers Debate Prayer in Schools

Should public school students be allowed to hold religious benedictions at school functions? Tuesday, tensions over the controversial issue came to a head in Tallahassee.

School prayer has long been outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court. It's in direct violation of the separation between church and state, but here at the capitol you wouldn't know it.

Tuesday the Senate Education Ccommittee heard a heated debate over a bill by Orlando democrat Gary Siplin that would allow student-led benedictions and invocations. They could only be held at voluntary events, like graduations and athletic matches.

And, this is key...school officials would be barred from taking part.

Siplin says without school involvement, the religious observances would be completely legal, but David Barkey with the Anti-Defamation League couldn't disagree more.

“The school is saying to the students, 'this is what you can say',” said Barkey. “Obviously, they're going to have to police what's being said. If they're policing what's being said, they're controlling the message. Therefore, it's school sponsored. There's no way of getting away from that.”

In light of the controversy, the committee chairman put the bill on hold. That doesn't mean it's dead, but its chances of passing may well have been weakened.

The legislation was sparked by the case of a panhandle school district that had been allowing student-led prayer. The district was sued and ultimately settled out of court.

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  • by THUMPER Location: chipleey on Apr 7, 2011 at 11:58 AM
    The problem is that all you bible thumpers have let religion get in the way of common sense. This is schools we are talking about, not places of warship. You would not want science being taught in your church....would you....another thing that really bugs me about religion....why does it seem that most of the dirtbag child molesters are somehow involved with religion...and then the church as a whole says that they can be forgiven....what a bunch of BS... let it happen to your child and see how you forgive them.....I say let them burn in HELL!!!! My belief....want to pray-go to church....don't ram it down my kids throat!!!!!!
    • reply
      by faith on Apr 11, 2011 at 05:15 PM in reply to THUMPER
      YOU POOR LOST SOUL. I will pray for you.
  • by Susie Q. Location: Chipley on Apr 6, 2011 at 06:24 PM
    If someone wants to pray,I don't see why they can't.Our country was built upon a religious foundation. We have, In God We Trust-- on our money.But we let people that don't believe in God of any religion, tell us we can't pray. Now why is that ?We as American's need to take back our religious freedoms. If you don't want to pray or hear us pray put your ear phones in your ears and listen to something you want to hear.And when something happens like what happen in Japan, don't run around saying "lord have mercy", that's praying.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 6, 2011 at 05:05 PM
    Our school's and country need God more than ever.I pray they put it back.
  • by Joey Location: dothan on Apr 6, 2011 at 07:02 AM
    The courts cannot make laws. This means they cannot outlaw anything. They can interpret the law. The constitution clearly states that they congress can make no law regarding the establisment of religion. It also states that any rights not explicitly given to the federal government shall be reserved for the states and or the people. Prayer in public schools is clearly a local or state issue regardless of what over educated intellectuals on the high court have stated. Anyone with a seventh grade reading level can read what is written in our constitution for themselves. No need to take my word for it. Just read the constitution, not court rulings, not what your teachers taught you in school, but what it says, it's very clear.
  • by Kathy Location: Hartford on Apr 5, 2011 at 09:09 PM
    You took the prayers out of school and opened to doors for the devil , whats wrong with prayers , if somebody does not like the prayers they dont need to join ...like it is their rights not to participate, it is our right to pray ,,,
  • by just wondering on Apr 5, 2011 at 08:13 PM
    2 things: first thing is that separation of church and state IS NOT in the constitution no matter how bad some wish it was. Second thing is if it were muslims, the school and every America hating group would bend over backwards for them.
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