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"School Prayer" Bill Ready For Florida Senate Vote

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) - The Florida Senate could vote as early as Wednesday on a controversial bill that could bring prayer into Florida schools, if school districts allow. Students would be allowed to lead prayers or give inspirational messages, and under the proposal, there would be virtually no limit to what can be said.

The bill, sponsored by Orlando Senator Gary Siplin, has just one prohibition; that adults could not deliver the messages. But if a student wanted a PA mike to deliver a Bhu29392dist message at a football game, or if a student wanted to lead his classroom in a Muslim prayer, that would be permitted, along with evangelical messages, Wiccan prayers, and more.

Messages must be inspirational and delivered by a student, but the law not only define 'inspirational', it specifically prohibits school districts from doing so.

In fact, it clearly prevents school districts from choosing what students are allowed to say or not say, spelling out that school district personnel "may not monitor or otherwise review the content of a student volunteer's inspirational message."

"So the inspirational message my little children would be hearing would not be up to the family….? asked Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach.

That is correct, Siplin replied. It would be up to the students at her children's school.

And if she doesn't want her children to hear any "inspirational messages" at school functions, what should she do? Sachs asked.

"Since school boards are elected you can vote against them next time," Siplin responded.

While the bill originally would have made it clear that prayers could only be offered at events students aren't required to attend, now the bill would allow prayer at any school event.

Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, said she couldn't understand why anyone wouldn't want students to hear inspirational messages at the start of an assembly.

"Do you suppose opponents want, instead of to inspire little first graders, maybe they want to demoralize them?" asked Storms.

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