The state Senate passed SB 98 this afternoon by a 31-8 margin, paving the way for public school districts to allow student prayer in school. The bill would allow "student volunteers to deliver inspirational messages, including but not limited to, prayers of invocation or benediction," according to a legislative summary from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Legislators appear to have attempted to get around the giant mounds of precedent against this sort of thing by adding verbiage to the text of the bill that simply allows students to deliver an "inspirational message" and then prohibits school officials from controlling the content of the message.
To review: Prayer at mandatory public school events is OK, so long as a grownup isn't the one doing it.
"The purpose," the amended bill reads, "is to provide students with the opportunity for formal or ceremonious observance of an occasion or event."
How considerate of them.
It should be noted that the bill doesn't actually affect Florida schools directly -- it simply allows school districts themselves to adopt policies that allow for these "inspirational messages." Because hey, who isn't inspired by some tenth-grader rubbing his religion all over you before the big fall pep rally?
The bill was introduced by Orlando Democratic Sen. Gary Siplin and cosponsored by Republican Sens. Greg Evers and Ronda Storms. The corresponding bill in the House has been filed and sent to committee, but there's no indication at the moment when (or if) it will make it to the floor for a vote.
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