Senate panel advances proposal to put chaplains in public schools
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 2/10/22-Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, talks about the bill she is co-sponsoring that would institute a 15-week abortion ban during the House Health & Human Services Committee, Thursday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. The bill passed the committee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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As the Senate version moves through committees, a similar House bill is headed for Wednesday’s Special Order calendar.

A Senate panel is advancing legislation (SB 1044) that could bring religion into K-12 government schools.

The Appropriations Committee on Education was the latest committee to move forward a Sen. Erin Grall measure that would “authorize volunteer school chaplains to provide supports, services, and programs to students as assigned by the district school board or charter school governing board.”

The bill leaves it to school districts to implement the chaplain proposal at their discretion.

Boards would have to determine to which programs and services chaplains would be assigned, would have to inform parents that chaplains be informed, and would have to get parental consent before chaplains interacted with students.

“Parents must be permitted to select a volunteer school chaplain from the list provided by the school district, which must include the chaplain’s religious affiliation, if any,” the bill reads, noting that the list must be published on the district website.

Speakers from the public made cases for and against the legislation.

Opponents suggested that schools needed more guidance counselors instead of a “free substitution” of chaplains, contending the bill opens the door to “proselytizing” in schools.

A representative of the League of Women Voters noted, in opposition, that these volunteer chaplains wouldn’t be trained to stop potential school shootings, a “critical skill set for anyone working with students in a guidance role.” She suggested funding was needed for safety-training for these volunteers.

Rev. Joe Parramore, the legislative affairs director for the Florida Council of Churches, said the “national sponsors” of the bill, including the National Association of School Chaplains, seek to “recruit, groom and indoctrinate young people in the name of Christ,” as part of his denunciation of the measure.

A representative of the Christian Family Coalition, supporting the bill, sees the legislation as an attempt to roll back “secularization” and attempts to “remove God” from schools, which he blames for a “breakdown of morality” nationally.

Yet Christianity isn’t the only faith that could get introduced into schools, Senators noted in debate.

Sen. Gayle Harrell said the bill would allow “anyone of any faith to volunteer to become a chaplain,” potentially opening the door to some very interesting “spiritual centering” for students in the state’s 67 counties.

Meanwhile, as the Senate version moves through committees, a similar House bill is headed for Wednesday’s Special Order calendar.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


5 comments

  • Michael K

    February 20, 2024 at 10:52 am

    Keep religious indoctrination out of our public schools. It’s bad enough that unaccountable “Christian” schools can siphon public education dollars to feed their coffers. The radical far right is trying to turn this nation into a theocracy of so-called “Christian” values. Just say NO.

  • JD

    February 20, 2024 at 11:08 am

    NO.

    Is the chaplin in the schools to give last rights to the victims of a school shooting?

    We’re tired of the bullsh!t. This will not end well for the GOP.

    Just f@cking stop.

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 20, 2024 at 2:03 pm

    Is this a giveaway for Christians because they’re too poor to pay for private school due to all the red hats and red shoes they bought?

    Or is it more along the lines of the MFLs motto, “home schooling is too much work”

  • MH/Duuuval

    February 20, 2024 at 3:46 pm

    Let a thousand religious flowers bloom!

  • jean solomon

    February 21, 2024 at 2:01 pm

    we are Rastafarins, it might be a good thing for kids to hear about us,,,they will love the Spaghetti Monster….

Comments are closed.


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