Do not legislate on Bible study in Florida schools’ curriculum

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Representative Kimberly Daniels, D-Jacksonville, discusses on the floor of Florida House on February 21, 2018.

Representative Kimberly Daniels, D-Jacksonville, discusses on the floor of Florida House on February 21, 2018.

House photo

When I wanted my children to learn to play the piano in addition to their ABCs, it didn’t occur to me to demand from the government that teaching the world’s most popular instrument be a part. of the school program.

It was important for me to extend the public school education of my daughters beyond participation in choir and orchestra with formal and structured music education. So I took extra work, prioritized learning the piano in my budget and paid for private lessons on Saturday. Other parents regularly do the same when they enroll their children in learning experiences outside of school that they find useful, expansive or complementary, whether it be sports, dance lessons. or religious training in church.

So why should Florida taxpayers now subsidize Bible teaching in public schools for evangelical Christians among us?

Indoctrination. Ideology. Fanaticism.

Many charter and religious schools already offer Bible studies. But this is not enough for those who want to Christianize the state. Sending their children to Bible lessons, worshiping, believing does not satisfy them. They also want to evangelize the rest of us. In their view, what is missing in our lives is Christ and our recognition that the Bible – the world’s best-selling book of all time – is the word of God.

And, they are sell to the Florida legislature that the teaching of the Bible and its impact on world history and cultures should be offered as part of the high school curriculum in every school district.

Elementary school isn’t a great place for Bible studies, but that didn’t stop a House education subcommittee this week from quickly pass a bill require all public schools to offer elective Bible courses.

“The key word is elective in choice,” argued the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Kimberly Daniels, a former preacher, demon exorcist, and a special kind of Jacksonville Democrat who doesn’t care about President Barack Obama but loves Donald Trump.

Daniels’ claim to national fame was his proclamation while preaching that she thanks god for slavery. “If it hadn’t been for slavery, I might be somewhere in Africa worshiping a tree,” she said. It doesn’t seem to have hurt his credibility in Florida at all.

His fellow legislators took his proposal seriously.

“This is a matter of public policy, not a matter of worship,” Daniels insisted. “This is just a literacy class. ”

“Religion will not be pushed down their throats,” she added.

But one by one, that’s exactly what HB 195 supporters did in the House PreK-12 Quality subcommittee on objections which, among other things, the measure may be unconstitutional and will surely result in costly lawsuits.

Whether we live in a country founded on the constitutional principle of religious freedom – which means we can embrace any type of religion or reject all of them – was of no concern to lawmakers.

Or that Daniels and his followers couldn’t even answer the most basic question: What kind of Bible would you teach? Favorite Catholic version? The King James Edition? Greek and Hebrew texts? There are over 60 dizzying versions in English only.

And, asked Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, what about the study of other world religions represented in the population of the state of Florida?

“I don’t know how you can have religious neutrality if your class focuses on one holy book,” Eskamani said.

But Daniels and his supporters – including a “family” religious group that peddles the conversion of LGBTQ children – have insisted that the Bible can be taught as “objective material.” And they model their Bible course proposal after the one offered in Kentucky, where the governor promotes “Bring your Bible to school.”

Lawmakers pushing God or the Bible are nothing new in Florida.

In fact, last year Daniels caught the nation’s attention when she introduced yet another bill requiring every public school and building used by district school boards across the state to prominently display the motto “In God We Trust”.

His bill was passed by the House but was not authorized by the Senate Education Committee. But it didn’t stop there. The “In God We Trust” requirement was included in Gov. Rick Scott’s spending bill.

What do you mean to push religion down the throats of Floridians?

No matter how it is camouflaged, the Bible study legislation is nothing but another attempt to sneak evangelism into the secular public classrooms of Florida. As if the weary teachers and students of 2019 also have to bring religious wars into the education equation.

To quote Ecclesiastes: “There is a time for everything, and a time for everything under heaven …”

The chair of the next education subcommittee to tackle the supply bill has made it clear his support for Bible study. But Representative Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, should instead focus on the real needs of classrooms and leave religion in its place: in the private sphere.

If you want your children to learn the Bible, send them to church.

This story was originally published March 8, 2019 10:43 a.m.

Award-winning columnist Fabiola Santiago has written on all things Miami since 1980, when the Mariel boat lift became her first front page article. Cuban refugee child of Freedom Flights, she is also the author of essays, short fiction films and the novel “Reclaiming Paris”.
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