School chaplain bill passes Legislature, awaits Gov. DeSantis’ blessing

Bible
Democrats had problems with the bill, but it didn't matter.

The Legislature has resolved the burning question of how to bring spiritual counsel to secular classrooms with a volunteer school chaplain proposal approved by the Senate that accepts the House language.

HB 931 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,” with districts implementing 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.

Sponsoring Sen. Erin Grall substituted the House product, passed by an 89-25 vote last week, for her own bill, moving a bill she said was “exactly the same” as the Senate iteration.

Ahead of Thursday’s 28-12 vote, Democrats had questions and concerns about the bill.

“It’s bad business for the state,” asserted Sen. Bobby Powell.

“I have so many problems with this bill,” stated Sen. Lori Berman.

Sen. Tina Polsky raised the specter of “Christian nationalism” being supported with this concept, saying to “treat all religions equally by keeping them out of the schools.”

Republicans stood up for the proposal.

Sen. Clay Yarborough noted the “optional” nature of the program for school districts, the requirements of Level II background checks, and parental consent as being benefits of the bill. He noted that “separation of church and state is not in the Constitution” as well.

In her close Thursday, Grall said the “controversy” surprised her, given that chaplaincy is in so many public institutions.

She noted that the program was “wide open” to embrace “the freedom of religion that we have,” rather than being “prescriptive.”

Meanwhile, similar Democratic qualms were voiced on Wednesday morning as the bill was being set up for a final vote.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book wondered if the bill permits “religious rites,” and the sponsor said the bill did not speak to that specifically.

Asked about whether Santeria rites such as animal sacrifice would be permitted, Grall said she didn’t know if a school district would allow that or not, but parents would have to consent after doing “their research,” but that animal sacrifice would likely be “outside the scope of chaplaincy.”

The League of Women Voters, the Democratic Women’s Club and the Council of Florida Churches opposed the bill in committee, while a representative of the Christian Family Coalition lauded the legislation, meanwhile, given that schools are “spiritual battlegrounds.”

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


27 comments

  • Michael K

    March 6, 2024 at 10:26 am

    Yet another solution in search of a problem. It’s bad enough that public education funding is being siphoned off into unaccountable religious schools, which can discriminate on every level – including denying persons with disabilities.

    • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emeritas" American

      March 7, 2024 at 6:51 pm

      Good evening Florida,
      Never Forget:
      “ITS NOT NEWS UNTIL EARL WEIGHS IN”.
      Just imagine everyones hearts swelling with pride when one of these Sage “Pistol Packing Preachers” saves hundreds of inocent childerns lives by “WHIPPING OUT THEIR ROSCOE AND SPLATTERING A WOULD BE SCHOOL SHOOTERS DOOK BRAINS ALL OVER THE LUNCH ROOMS WALLS”!!!!
      Thank you Florida,
      Earl Pitts American
      *queue EXTREAMLY LOUD USA USA USA Patriotic Music to further WIZZ OFF all Dook 4 Brains Lefty Voting Readership*
      “IN THE LAND OF THE FREEEEEEEEE AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE*

      • George

        March 7, 2024 at 6:59 pm

        Remember, it’s not news till Earl Pitts pisses all over it

        • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emeritas" American

          March 7, 2024 at 7:51 pm

          Good evening Little Georgie Porgie,
          For your insolance you are hereby placed under a 7 Day masturbation ban.
          Thank you Little Georgie Porgie,
          Earl Pitts American

          • Dont Say FLA

            March 8, 2024 at 7:50 am

            You right, pops. A so-called “chaplain” could easily conceal a long gun under the chaplain robe. When the chaplain sets off the metal detector walking in the school door, they whip out their Jesus cross necklaces and say “My Love of The Lord set of the metal detector again today, just like they do every day,” and the detector attendant will laugh and laugh and laugh and say “come on in, I trust a man of Jesus” but one of these days that AR15 and fifteen 50 round magazines will be what set off the metal detector that day and that chaplain will … um.. save kids from some active shooter that day. Yay!

  • Paul

    March 6, 2024 at 11:09 am

    Proselytizers should be flogged.

    • Dont Say FLA

      March 14, 2024 at 4:47 pm

      Proselytizers should be flogged, exactly as they do in Nicaragua, which is why pRick Scott and CanCunTed and Crazy Kitchen Lady all got their panties in a wad.

  • Hail Satan 😊

    March 6, 2024 at 12:59 pm

    The Satanic Temple has already said they’ll be the first ones in the door to preach the good word of Satanism to your kids if this should pass.

    And God bless them for it. The Satanic Temple really is doing the Lord’s work.

  • ScienceBLVR

    March 6, 2024 at 1:02 pm

    Still confused about why this would even be proposed. Is there a groundswell of parents asking for religious guidance for their children? If so, they are certainly free to attend religious services outside of school time. When tragedies occur, the death of students for example, schools already have a team in place to offer support and guidance. This is obviously just an attempt to shove Jesus down these poor kids throats.. talk about grooming and indoctrination.. and it will never pass constitutional scrutiny.

    • rick whitaker

      March 6, 2024 at 1:23 pm

      worried parents should see that religion is not the answer for what their kids need. children have not yet been made into 100% hypocrates like their religion influenced parents, so they know how shallow and phoney religion can be. “teacher, leave them kids alone”, pink floyd. desantis is a punk. i would like to challenge him to a verbal duel.

    • Dont Say FLA

      March 8, 2024 at 7:54 am

      Maybe MAGAFL parents think their kids wouldn’t be as dumb if they could afford to send their kids to private school.

      But MAGAs can’t afford private school. MAGAs think private school is something up at the church (but they still can’t afford it)

      Their (ahem) thinking must be, “Bring church people into the public school, and my stupid damn kids, who I detest and resent with every bone in my body for being as stupid as me, maybe they won’t be as stupid anymore”

  • 🏳️‍🌈 Jesus was Gay 🏳️‍🌈

    March 6, 2024 at 3:56 pm

    I mean, he hung around with a bunch of dudes drinking wine, but didn’t have girlfriend and never married. But his best friend was a sex worker.

    I bet he and his apostles had wild, drunken orgies!

    • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emeritas" American

      March 7, 2024 at 7:04 pm

      BLASPHMEY JWG …. PREPARE FOR CHASTIZEMENT ….. I, Earl Pitts American hereby place you on a FULL 4 DAY PAINFULL CHASTIZEMENT.
      You shall not leave your house until Tuesday Morn ‘Ting or Lightning Bolts From Heaven will strike you down.
      And just in case you think you will just sit home on vacay for 4 days of “Milking Your Filbert” well think again Buddy Boy. I also place you under a manditory 4 day masturbation ban.
      Thats right Blastphmious Buddy Boy ….. no “Filbert Milking For The Likes Of You.
      Once again Earl Flexes His Mucular Addonis Manhood for Truth Justice And The American Way.
      EPA

    • Dont Say FLA

      March 8, 2024 at 8:02 am

      He also wore a dress and Birkestocks. If they’d of had cars back then, he’s have driven a Subaru.

      Being Jesus, couldn’t he have turned a donkey into a Subaru? I mean yeah there were no gas stations, but he could have turned a donkey into a solar powered Subaru that went 0-60 in 1.5 seconds and went infinity miles on one solar charge, ’cause he Jesus. Right?

      Interesting how he never did that despite being all powerful. It must have been the Prime Directive preventing him from turning a donkey into a Subaru, and that right there is proof enough that Jesus was a space alien!

      Ridiculous, right? And yet, that’s as much proof, well, MORE proof, than any belief in any religion is proven, so just take it on faith.

      Take it from me. On faith. Despite all signs to the contrary. Have faith. Believe me. Believe IN me. …. (Says who? Donald J Trump, and people eat it up, but WHYYyyyyyyyyyy)

  • Please stop attacking Jesus and chaplains just because your government is stupid

    March 6, 2024 at 6:15 pm

    The whole point of separation of church and state is to keep the state out of the church just as much as church out of the state, which has been a primary fundamental principle since the beginning of this nation and should remain so for all kinds of good reasons. This is just stupid and has nothing to do with faith. It’s your government making yet another ludicrous power play in their effort to destroy public education. Unfortunately politicians (both in the church and in the state) have long sought to coopt the faith for their own ends, and people confuse these very bad behaviours and abuse with faith itself. They could not be farther apart.

    Chaplains have to undergo a grueling master’s degree program often spanning 4 years (if they already have their bachelors) before they can even be ordained. They do really important work in the community and hospitals. If it were not for a chaplain at the hospital we could not have gotten my loved one connected to palliative care and then hospice when she was dying. Many have dual degrees as licensed mental health counselors and ordained chaplains, where they can work in either or both spheres, and that takes more than 10 years education plus residencies. They deserve respect. Please stop calling them groomers just because of individual bad actors which exist everywhere. This bill is misguided and misplaced but that does not mean attacking people is the solution. If you feel strongly about it, attack your state government for continuing to attack public education and violating the boundaries between church and state.

    • Dont Say FLA

      March 8, 2024 at 9:39 am

      While you can become a chaplain in some religions via the path of the grueling master’s degree program, other religions have you submit your name online and give you an instant, print-at-home ordainment.

      And it’s real.

      Ever go to a wedding where it was just some friend of the couple that married them despite that friend working as a server in a restaurant, but not working at some religious institution?

      That happens thanks to online ordainment at Universal Life Church. Online ordainment used to mean you could perform weddings and perhaps get yourself some tax loopholes.

      But now you can ordained online to get yourself into Florida’s high schools. Yes, our government is stupid.

      • My Take

        March 8, 2024 at 8:08 pm

        Even the ones who actively act as ministers, especially in all those small church in closed stores, can be basically near-totally untrained. Worked at, say, a auto parts counter, “heard the call,” read the Bible, and became a minister … not rarely just part time–even with a church–and still at the parts counter.

        • Dont Say FLA

          March 9, 2024 at 9:44 am

          Agree. Start your own church. Self ordain. Declare whatever practices you like to be religious practices. Go practice your practices up at the high school. Perfect!

  • Paul

    March 6, 2024 at 7:07 pm

    It’s not about the importance of chaplains in people’s lives. That goes without saying. It’s about the official introduction of religion into the public school system. That’s the objective of this legislation.

    If parents want religion in their children’s lives they will provide for it. What if a religion is not represented. Does that not effectively exclude a child of a different faith from the program? I won’t even address the conundrum regarding atheist children. What if some clergy feel it’s their moral obligation and Constitutional right to prostelytize? Parents should not have to worry about this, especially with younger children.

    Make no mistake…this is another attempt to desecularize the public school system by some very closed-minded legislators. These legislators should learn to mind their own businesses.

    • Please stop attacking Jesus and chaplains just because your government is stupid

      March 6, 2024 at 7:16 pm

      Yes, agreed, which is why I wrote what I did. When my child was in school there were massive lawsuits to prevent prayer in public school, even by individuals. They were forbidden to say the pledge of allegiance. Anyone caught praying on school grounds was reprimanded and disciplined. Their valedictorian was stripped of her honors by the county because she defied the orders and held an interfaith moment of silence at graduation. That was the flavor of the day and it was ridiculous, punitive, and pointless. My, how things have swung the other direction but just as stupid. I believe in common sense, individual freedom of expression, inclusiveness, and separation of church and state.

      • MH/Duuuval

        March 6, 2024 at 9:58 pm

        Re-build the wall between church and state, pronto.

        • MH/Duuuval

          March 8, 2024 at 9:53 am

          For the record:
          In 1948 the Supreme Court, in McCollum v. Board of Education, struck down voluntary religious education classes in Champaign, Illinois, public schools, saying the program violated separation of church and state.

          • Dont Say FLA

            March 9, 2024 at 9:45 am

            SHhhhhhhhhh.. Don’t let Clarence find out about any more precedents to turn over! SHHHHHHHH

  • Gr00mer Republican Christians Ziegler

    March 8, 2024 at 5:19 am

    Folks, there is no man in the clouds with sandals making sure you behave.

    Floridiot are such boobs.

  • Dont Say FLA

    March 8, 2024 at 7:45 am

    It might await Rhonda’s blessing, but it definitely already got Universal Life Church Chaplain Matt Gaetz’s blessing! Again and again.

    He used up a whole box of Kleenex thinking how much he loves the idea of being chaplain to vulnerable high school kids. Wiping his tears of joy, of course.

    Tears!! What did you think went into all those Kleenex, you bunch of pervs? Are all readers a bunch of pervs? Or is it Gaetz that we all have in common in our thought about how he might use a box of Kleenex? Is Gaetz the perv? LOFL

  • Keisha Yi

    March 10, 2024 at 5:30 pm

    Are they going to be bringing in Rabbis and Imams as well? Real tired of Florida GOP being nothing but a club of White Christian Nationalists.

    • Dont Say FLA

      March 14, 2024 at 4:49 pm

      Doubt it. Not too many Rabbis or Imams are into diddling kids. That is mostly just a Christian thing.

Comments are closed.


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