Florida officials are unconstitutionally imposing religion on public schools, FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan D. Jayne asserts in an op-ed published in one of the state’s most prominent newspapers.
In a column for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Jayne spotlights two recent events. The Legislature has passed a bill that will require a one-to-two minute moment of silence every morning at every public school in Florida, openly intended to encourage students to recite prayers in class. The second attack on secular schools, based on a 2019 law to revisit public school civics standards, is the Florida Department of Education’s proposal for new curriculum standards that indoctrinate children into a counterfactual version of history designed to paint a false narrative that the United States is a Christian nation.
Jayne writes: Both the U.S. and the Florida constitutions prohibit laws “respecting an establishment of religion,” meaning the government must not take sides on religious debates. Public schools cannot present the government as a Christian or “Judeo-Christian” entity.
Besides, the Ten Commandments’ influence on the rule of law in America is simply a myth. And yet, the Florida Department of Education has proposed an unconstitutional requirement that this disinformation be taught to every seventh grader in Florida, along with other debunked Christian nationalist talking points such as “How Judeo-Christian values influenced America’s founding ideals and documents” and “the influence of the Protestant work ethic on economic freedom and personal responsibility.” The proposed standards would require that schools remind ninth-grade students of all these falsehoods.
Jayne concludes: “The sectarian religious measures being foisted on Florida schoolchildren are un-American and antithetical to true religious freedom.” Read the complete op-ed here.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation strives to focus and comment on state-level developments around the nation. Jayne’s commentary is part of that endeavor.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a Madison, Wis.-headquartered national nonprofit with over 35,000 members and several chapters across the country, including almost 1,800 members and a chapter in Florida.