The Florida Senate approved the bad Religious Liberties bill (SB 436) on a vote of 23-13.
The version in the House (HB 303) passed through both of its committee stops on unanimous yes votes and will now go to the full House.
The only thing that will stop or modify it is the fact that the House and Senate versions are a bit different. That means that when the House approves their version, there needs to be negotiations between the two chambers until they agree on a final bill. If they can’t agree, the bill can die. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Our arguments were either not heard by Florida’s lawmakers or they were dismissed as unimportant. An article published today at least mentions our concern: Senate OKs school religious expression bill.
The bill (SB 436) says school districts may not discriminate against any student, parent or school employee because they shared their religious viewpoint.
But those opposed to the bill say it could open the door from everything from cracking down on science teachers who teach evolution to allowing Christian students to intimidate those of other faiths.
“Could it be provoking? Could it be concerning? Yeah, that’s healthy thought. That’s what happens in a free world,” said Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, and sponsor of the bill.
Sen. Baxley has been advocating for years for challenging evolution lessons in our schools (see our post Baxley and the Religious Liberties Act). If this bill passes, he may finally get his wish.
Opening the door to unscientific, religious concepts in a public school science classroom is not “provoking” or “healthy.” It’s doing a disservice to our children who could become confused or misled about what is and is not science.