A pro-life, pro-family attorney says the legislation Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) recently signed requiring schools to hold a daily moment of silence is "one of the most important bills that we have passed in a long time."
John Stemberger, president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC), says the impact will be immediate and direct, and that is especially true for young people in public schools.
"In today's world, young people's minds are constantly being distracted through social media, through music, through some headphones," he observes. "The ability to be in silence for one minute is a really big deal, if you think about it, for a young person that doesn't want that and looks for ways to occupy their mind."
"Every family in our state should be able to send their children to school and know that they will be protected from harm and be able to practice their faith," said Gov. DeSantis. "I'm proud to sign these bills today to help protect religious freedom in Florida."
The state leader signed the bill in front of members of the Florida Legislature as well as leaders in the Jewish community at the Shul of Bal Harbour.
"I will continue to make sure that in Florida we root out anti-Semitism and that every day we show our support for Israel and our Jewish communities," said the governor.
"We know that many children struggle with mental health issues, which impact them, their families, and their schools most of all," said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. "HB 529 empowers families to begin those ongoing conversations with their child on what they might reflect on during the moment of silence and help them use this time as an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming day."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation and other like-minded groups have often frowned on prayer in public schools and on other initiatives aimed at protecting religious freedom. But Stemberger says this bill is "constitutionally solid."
"It makes no reference to religion or faith or any kind of a higher power of even a vague kind," the FFPC president details. "It simply asks for a moment of silence, which is non-sectarian, non-religious. It simply allows for contemplation in whatever way that person would want to express it."
Stemberger finds it interesting that HB 529 replaced a statute that had an optional moment of prayer for mediation. He says the problem was nobody did that because it was optional.
"This mandatory moment of silent meditation for one minute … can have a very profound impact every day upon a young person," Stemberger concludes.
Photo credit: Taylor Wilcox (Unsplash)
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