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Educators Fear Religious Liberties Act May Have Unintended Consequences

June 30th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
A new law taking effect Saturday will change the way religious expression in schools is dealt with in the state.
Religious advocates say it conforms state law to existing federal law, but  some are worried the wide scope of the bill may cause some unintended consequences.
Florida lawmakers begin each session with a prayer; more often than not it’s a Christian prayer.
A new law taking effect July 1st, crafted by a minister and a devout Christian,  will standardize what is and isn’t allowed regarding religious expression for schools in all 67 districts.
Senator Dennis Baxley says the Religious Liberties Act will clear up any inconsistencies between one district and another.
“I think it will liberate and deliver a sense of free expression,” said Senator Baxley.
The law protects students right to pray at school and school sponsored events.
It also lets students express religious beliefs in writing assignments and allows them to wear clothes with religious messages.
Religious leaders like Reverend R.B. Holmes says the law is an important statement of Florida’s commitment to protecting religious freedom.
“If persons can wear a t-shirt that defines who they are culturally or politically then Christians and religious folk ought to also have that same right,” said Holmes.
Some in the education field are concerned there could be some unintended consequences because the law applies to all religions, even the most controversial like satanism.
Many school districts enforce dress codes that prohibit clothing which may distract other students.
“The Florida School Board Association says it’s advised school districts to seek legal counsel, to determine how the new law may impact their existing policies,” said Andrea Messina, Executive Director of the Florida School Board Association.
The Religious Liberties Act is one of 125 laws taking effect beginning July 1st.

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