The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech. This freedom from the establishment of a state religion and the protection of free speech establishes the protection of religious speech and expression as well. There have been many challenges by the ACLU and others at public schools across America and in Florida to sterilize the schools of religious expressions using the establishment clause; however, this clause was intended to declare religious freedom in the US and to escape the establishment of state religion as was common in governments of the old world.
After much case law, it is time to articulate in statute how Florida school policy will apply this free speech to our school administrators, teachers, staff, and students. We owe them clarity.
This proposed bill is not in response to a crisis or high profile case. The time to clarify is not in the middle of a crisis, but the trend is clear to people of faith. Expressions of faith have been stifled in our public schools. This proposal is not intended as a criticism of our school administration; we have left them without clarity on this issue. Free speech does not stop at the school property line and this statute will give clarity and direction on how to preserve this constitutional right without authorizing disruption and disharmony.
Rep. Daniels, a Democrat African-American House Member brought this language to me, a Republican Caucasian Senator. It is a bi-partisan and bi-cameral proposal brought in harmony to the legislative body. It is much like an “enabling bill” often done to apply a constitutional amendment when added to the Florida constitution by the voters. How refreshing to work across the aisle and across the chambers to clarify how the free speech of our citizens will be protected at our schools.
Without this free religious expression, we are in fact establishing a state sponsored religion – secular humanism.
Let Freedom Ring!