Controversial School ‘Prayer Bill’ Signed into Law

Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Friday, a bill that would allow students to deliver “inspirational messages” at school events, if school boards decided to adopt the policy.

Students praying

Sen. Gary Siplin (D-Orlando), who sponsored the proposal, (SB 98), said history was made today as the bill returns inspirational messages, including prayer, into all 67 counties’ school boards, after a 50-year absence.

“Its a wonderful, wonderful day in the State of Florida for our youth,” he said. “We teach our kids how to read, write and do arithmetic and we want to make sure that we have a complete student when they graduate. Of course, morality and spriturality is a part of that process.”

As the bill progressed through the Florida Legislature it met with fierce opposition from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Anti-Defamation League, that argued it violates constitutional protections that separate the church and state.

Asked whether he is concerned there might be legal challenges to the law, Siplin brushed this aside saying, both the House and Senate lawyers agreed that SB 98 is constitutional.

“It’s not a mandate, it’s not a requirement,” Siplin said at a news conference today. “It authorizes a school board to adopt rules allowing the messages, if they want to and once they do, an adult can’t participate in the inspirational messages, only the students.”

Siplin added that there is a Florida Statue that if someone files a lawsuit in a case like this, it will be “considered frivolous and the school board will be allowed attorneys fees.”

“So bring it on and they will be paying attorneys fees to the school board that institutes the policy,” he said.




  1. […] Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Longmore moved to Florida in 2004 for a job overseeing print sales for Tama Broadcasting, a national African American media chain. He saw a need for hyperlocal news in the Orlando area, and started West Orlando News in 2005, at first as a weekly newspaper. But as the business model for print became harder to sustain, Longmore focused in on web content, and went exclusively digital in 2009. The site covers a wide array of local topics, from Orlando’s schools to reviews of cultural events in the area. The site is also dedicated to covering local politics, and has featured interviews with government officials, as well as analysis of policy and budgetary decisions. […]


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