Blazing a freedom-of-religion trail that other U.S. governors would do well to follow, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill requiring at least one minute of silence in public schools at the start of each day for children to pray or just meditate.
HB 529, the “Moment of Silence in Public Schools” bill, was signed into law June 14 and requires public-school principals to direct first-period teachers to conduct a moment of silence, according to WFLA.com.
“It’s something that’s important to be able to provide each student the ability, every day, to be able to reflect and to be able to pray as they see fit,” DeSantis explained. “The idea that you can just push God out of every institution, and be successful — I’m sorry, our founding fathers did not believe that.”
The governor specifically pointed out that the measure is for protecting religious liberty.
The law covers all grades in public school classrooms and bars teachers from suggesting to students what they should reflect on. It takes effect on July 1.
Opponents said the measure promotes prayer in school, as if that is something dangerous or unhealthy. State Sen. Lori Berman (D) of Palm Beach actually questioned if students could pull out rosary beads, make the sign of the cross or use a prayer rug and asked if that would make some students uncomfortable. State Sen. Jason Pizzo (D) of Miami-Dade supported the legislation, however, saying students won’t be required to pray.
The law makes Florida one of at least 15 states with mandatory moments of silence at public schools.