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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida school prayer bill fuels culture wars, experts say



Revived in the Florida House on Monday, legislation that would allow public school students to offer "inspirational messages" including prayer at school functions has raised the specter of a heated culture war as the state and nation prepare for elections.

Michael Allen, a Stetson University constitutional law professor, told the Palm Beach Post that fight over school prayer almost always leads to the committed advocates to push their views as hard as possible.

"You know the lawsuits will be filed against counties that try to enact a school prayer policy," Allen said. "It really amounts of a form of unfunded mandate. You know the Legislature's not going to pay the legal costs."

At least one group that supports religious freedom suggested this bill would not survive the challenge, though.

"I'm an advocate of student speech," Mat Staver, founder of the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, told the Post. "But this bill will run into constitutional problems and I don't think it's right to make school districts litigate this issue again -- and they will have to." 

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 6:29am]


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