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Rep. Kim Daniels has more religious legislation in the hopper.

Influence

Bill would mandate Bible study classes in public high schools

Rep. Kim Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat known for championing legislation that brings religion into public schools, filed legislation Tuesday mandating high school-level Bible study electives.

That is, her bill (HB 195) would require — rather than just permit, as is the case now — high schools to offer an “objective study of religion.”

Such courses include:

— “A course on the Hebrew Scriptures and Old Testament…”

— “A course on the New Testament…,” and

— “A course on the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament of the Bible, and the New Testament of the Bible.”

They would still be electives: If the bill passes, however, the state’s public schools would have to offer these, but no one student would be required to take them.

Similar legislation is being considered or has been passed elsewhere.

In North Dakota, the legislature is mulling a mandatory semester-long course. And in Kentucky, the Bible Literacy Act is of special interest to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Daniels, a Christian evangelist, has successfully carried religious legislation before, drawing on support from Republicans and African-American Democrats:

HB 303, the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act,” passed in 2017.

The measure bans school districts “from discriminating against students, parents, & school personnel on basis of religious viewpoints or expression,” and requires a school district “to adopt limited public forum policy & deliver a disclaimer at school events.”

— HB 839, a bill requiring school districts to display Florida’s motto “In God We Trust,” passed in 2018.

Florida Politics has reached out to Daniels’ office for comment on the recent legislation.

Meanwhile, Kirk Bailey, political director of the ACLU of Florida, says his group is watching this bill.

“There are acceptable ways to teach about the Bible: Schools can teach comparative religion classes or about the Bible’s relationship to literature, art or music.  However, it is exceedingly difficult to do so in a constitutionally permissible manner,” Bailey said.

“Ultimately, parents, not the government, should be in charge of religious education. To ensure one faith is not promoted over another in our public schools and to protect our students’ First Amendment rights, we’ll continue to monitor this bill to see how it progresses during this legislative session,” Bailey added.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Frankie M.

    January 9, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    Too many heathens in our schools. We need more God in our classrooms. Should solve our unfunded security mandate. Maybe Kim Daniels can come in to give a guest lecture on the book of revelations?

    • Clair

      January 9, 2019 at 4:00 pm

      I happen to be one of those so called “heathens” you talk about and I have never broken a law in my life. My actions are guided by a coincidence that tells me to do no harm to other humans or living things and to do my best to live a truthful and honourable life. If you think that you need the bible to tell you what is right of wrong or the fear of God or feel fire in order to be a “good person” you are wrong. Explain why child sex abuse is rampant in the catholic church or why televangelists rob unsuspecting people of their savings. All people are capable of bad. Religion has nothing to do with it.

      • Frankie M.

        January 9, 2019 at 7:13 pm

        I’m part of one of the biggest religious groups in the world…lapsed Catholics. Chill out. I thought the last sentence would convey sarcasm. Mission not accomplished?

        • anya

          January 10, 2019 at 11:55 am

          Frankie, sometimes tongue-in-cheek comments aren’t obvious. Always a good idea to insert “/s” at the end, just to make sure others get your intent. 🙂

    • Gregg morgan

      January 11, 2019 at 8:09 am

      You’re absolutely right so we should learn about many God’s.. that way we have even more God in our school system. I AGREE .. Completely with your views. More gods taught in school will benefit our society as to not grow up as religious biggots or racists. Couldn’t agree more but how many years will it take to teach every child to be open and thoughtful of every religion in the world?

    • Naomi Kitzne

      January 13, 2019 at 5:16 pm

      “Remember class, everything in this book is fiction. I am required to read it however, so I’ll start by going over all the times god commanded people to rape”

  2. Clair

    January 9, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    I hope this bill would include educating students of all religions not just christianity. After all we are a country that supposedly supports religious freedom.

    • Gregg Morgan

      January 11, 2019 at 8:28 am

      It is teaching kids about how most Christians view the other religions of the world…

      Crickets..

      Ok let’s learn about how radicals exist in every religion.
      or ..
      let’s learn how there’s love in every religion..

      Let’s learn that from the verses of the same book (no matter which magic book goes to your choice of God) there’s a way to take good from a message..
      or..
      misconstrue that same message negatively because it’s written elsewhere.
      Its in these scriptures that have been re-written over time that you will find your own path of either love or hatred depending on what is your belief.
      Open Source code for anyone to consider as to why it’s written, so go forth, celebrate, love and exercise the freedom of choices you have with an open mind to others fantasies.
      At the same time know that your way is only meant for you.
      Trying to make someone believe in your magical fairytale is ridiculous.
      Love the idea that we are all different in our own way. Learn from the actions of others. Utilize it to follow and strengthen your own path.
      Tell no one unless specifically prompted by someone that’s openly interested in your ideas.

  3. Cat Nass

    January 9, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    I too am a so called “Heathen”! I have always treated everyone with respect regardless of their position in lif e, their background or color. I had lunch sitting on the curb in a McDonald’s parking lot 2 weeks ago with a homeless man, I bought his lunch too. We had a very pleasant chat and lunch. We need more compassion not more god.

  4. Sue Woltanski

    January 9, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    The bill number is incorrect. It is HB195.

  5. Paulie

    January 9, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    Please leave your fairy tales and myths off my laws, thanks.

  6. Brandi Blake

    January 9, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    You can either have religion in public schools, or you can have funding from taxes. Not both.

  7. Julia

    January 9, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    Bible classes are available in Religious schools and at Churches. Public schools are for ALL Religions and Religion should not be taught. Tax dollars should NOT GO TO Religious schools or Charter schools with a Religious bent.

  8. Sam

    January 9, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    I don’t need a god to be good and it frightens me that other people might only be good because they believe they will be tortured when they if they aren’t. There is zero evidence of the existence of any god and zero evidence of the actual existence of Jesus, but science is quite provable.

    • Darwin Soder

      January 11, 2019 at 9:23 am

      Well said SAM. Both god and jesus are fake news, i.e. mythology. Why are nonthiests so reluctant to proudly tell the truth about these ancient and harmful myths?

      • Kevin Boyle

        January 13, 2019 at 4:47 pm

        Because nontheists are pariahs in our societies. We are considered worse than heretics or heathens as we have (according to theists) no basis for our morality. Has there ever been a nontheist elected to a federal office in the US? Maybe but they’ve had to pretend to be religious or they can’t get elected.

  9. Sam

    January 9, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    I don’t need a god to be good and it frightens me that other people might only be good because they believe they will be tortured when they if they aren’t. There is zero evidence of the existence of any god and zero evidence of the actual existence of Jesus, but science is quite provable. 🙂

  10. Brien Doyle

    January 9, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    Fine – Once you all have shown evidence to prove the existence of your gods.

    After 2000+ years – it would be expected that you had this proof – Not just one single solitary book of fables and fiction.

  11. Brian Westley

    January 9, 2019 at 11:38 pm

    Just another selfish Christian who wants to pee her god all over other people’s children.

  12. Michael

    January 10, 2019 at 12:30 am

    Not no but hell no! Keep your religion out of our government.

  13. Denise

    January 10, 2019 at 8:13 am

    Black voters, mainly Democrats are religiously Conservative. I would prefer resources spent on Science, IT, Math, and skills training like plumbing and electrical engineering. However, these Biblical classes are electives -meaning you have the right to take them or not- no different than what is offered at UF, where I was a Religion major.

  14. Cindy

    January 10, 2019 at 8:50 am

    Our schools already do not have enough money to offer arts and PE classes. And we are going to mandate “bible studies” ??? What could possibly be the purpose? And who determines what constitutes a passing grade or what is acceptable curriculum? Ms Daniels’ self-founded church and bible college? What bible would be used? I agree that religious education belongs in the home and in the church. It does not in any way guarantee a “moral” child and some religions are heavily misogynistic. A great alternative would be to offer ethics and philosophy classes–more likely to to turn out a child who is conscious of her actions on society and a moral person without the fear of after-life retribution or a convert to any particular religion. If I thought the purpose was to encourage children to learn about all religions objectively and other classes were also funded without a mandate as to which classes MUST be taught, I’d have no problem with this. I have doubts.

  15. Tony Payne

    January 10, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    ONCE AGAIN, Ms Daniels, these bills are unconstitutional. You may not mandate religion…ANY religion. As a lawmaker, we expect you to understand these things.

    And ONCE AGAIN, another one of these stupid, unconstitutional bills wastes time of lawmakers and their staff, and wastes taxpayer money dealing with this nonsense. You want to fix schools, fund them and pay teachers a professional wage! You really want to fix schools, better fund early childhood intervention in at-risk populations.

  16. Brion Bearclaw

    January 10, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    If you allow any ONE religion into public schools, then you must allow them ALL. That includes all the sects of Christianity and analogous faiths, Asatru, Olympianism, Wicca, Islam, Crowleyanism, Pastafarianism, and yes, Satanism. How do people feel about a Luceferian priest giving an Invocation to Lucifer as the morning prayer?? Religion has NO place in public schools. If you want YOUR children to learn your particular faith based mythology, then YOU teach it to them at home. Don’t spend tax dollars to teach MY kids your book of myths.

  17. Dan Schilling

    January 10, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    All non-Christians must be exterminated now. God created America for us only. The blood of non-believers must flow like rivers to wash away the sins of communist socialist liberalism, atheism, following false religions and homosexuality. Kenyan muslim communist homosexual obama must be killed now. Praise Jesus!

    • Mr Brian HOULAHAN

      January 11, 2019 at 4:37 pm

      Shit – I hope you are being sarcastic.

  18. Gregory Pius

    January 10, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    No. No sir, no ma’am, no way, no how. You leave that garbage OUT of my children’s education and keep it AT HOME where it belongs.

    I am an atheist, and my heroes are Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin–and it is plainly evident with each election that we’re doing a poorer and poorer job of teaching even basic civics to our children, a large number of whom seem to think that America is a Christian nation founded on Christian principles, when most of the Founders were either Deists, or in Franklin’s case, an atheist like me. If we had done a better job, we wouldn’t have schoolchildren who grow up into zealots that constantly chip away at the wall of division between church and state that was so carefully and deliberately installed by the founders. Without it, we are no better than, say, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, or other extreme theocracies. I don’t have to ask you which Islamic religious state you would like to live in. I don’t want to live in a Christian one, and I will fight its installation to my dying breath.

    This is how democracies are lost and despots get elected. We teach our children to elect them.

  19. Airstreamingypsy

    January 10, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    Teach your fairy tales in church, that’s what church is for. You will not be indoctrinating my children. I’m horrified that anyone would try to mandate religion in public school when they Founding Fathers were pretty clear about a separation of church and state.

  20. Liang Proton

    January 10, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    Christians hate the separation of church and state, especially in regards to schools. They might as well admit that.

    But, let them have it their way. Remove all borders so ‘God’ can influence the government. I wonder which group would be the first to get marginalized in a system like that?

  21. Stan Chrzanowski

    January 11, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    All public high schools should have a two semester course, probably sophomore year, in religions. All religions should be covered. The time spent on each religion should be representative of its membership size and the order should be the date of their founding. The first week should cover extinct religions.

    Aren’t we all curious about why others believe what they do?

  22. Desertphile

    January 13, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    Excellent! I get to teach the class!

  23. AS147

    January 13, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    How do senators and other government employees get to waste our money like this. Surely there should be a basic check such as “is it against current laws or THE CONSTITUTION!”

    If so Bill does not get submitted and any time and money comes out of the proposers own pocket! Submit more than 5 in a term and you go on an employee warning status. Make it 8 and you are suspended. Make it 10 and you are removed from office,

    I wonder how many bills we will get like this then😃

  24. Willy the Pimp

    January 13, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    I cringe when “religious studies” seem to lack the study of every religion except Christianity. Am I missing something?

  25. Robert

    January 13, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    I have mixed emotions about this. If treated as part of a history or philosophy class, I have little issue with it. The Bible is a wonderful source of ancient history and we can not ignore it s influence on Western civilizations. I would even be okay with it being a mandated course.

    It be good for the kids to learn that the Bible is fable and contains a lot of contradictions and failings, just like any religious book and that you have to understand the context of the times it was written in.

    However if it’s used to promote one religious viewpoint over another, or somehow taught as an alternative to generally accepted Scientific fact then I do take issue.

    The only way Florida is going to move forward and deal with the challenges facing this state in the future, is to teach our kids to think rationally and logically. That means more art (because that promotes critical thinking) and science.

  26. Al

    January 14, 2019 at 6:15 am

    It doesn’t seem like this should be constitutional…even if it’s an elective. If Christianity is the ONLY religion that any one student can easily learn about in a public school, that is a huge imbalance. It gives Christianity an advantage. And to force schools to have that class available seems to me an attempt to start trying to slowly start forcing religion into public schools.

    The United States is not a theocracy. Christians have the right to practice their religion. They do not have the right to legislate it onto everyone else! Stop, just please stop. Teach it to your kids. Spread the word. Stop forcing it. If this were Islam you’d be LOSING YOUR SHIT.

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