A pending House bill (HB 195) requiring all state-funded high schools in Florida to offer an elective class on the Hebrew and Christian Bibles is highly deceptive.
The real intent of the bill (which has just moved out of the committee) can be gauged by the fact that the primary sponsor is state Rep. Kim Daniels, a former “exorcist” who bills herself as the “Demonbuster” and once “thanked God” her ancestors were enslaved because that allowed them to find Jesus.
At a March 7 committee hearing, state Rep. Geraldine Thompson asked Daniels: “(Line 32 of the bill) says that there will be religious neutrality and accommodating the diversity of all students in the school. Does that mean that we’re saying we’re going to teach Islam? Are we teaching Buddhism? Are we teaching Hinduism? Because there’s a lot of diversity in Florida. And if there’s neutrality, are we teaching all of those different religions?” Daniels replied, “No, that’s not what that means.”
Thompson’s well-meaning line of questioning was limited in scope. Close to 40 percent of Americans born after 1987 identify as nonreligious. Diversity should also encompass nonbelievers. So, a high school course on comparative religion could be useful (providing it also surveys the wealth of freethought writings by atheist and agnostic luminaries such as Bertrand Russell and Elizabeth Cady Stanton). But comparative religion is not this bill’s intent.
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Lawmakers should kill HB 195 — a mischief-making bill that aims to give public schools a mandate rife for abuse and divisiveness.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president
Freedom From Religion Foundation