Local church-state separation group against chaplains in schools

The Florida legislature is currently considering House Bill 931, which would allow volunteers to serve as public school chaplains.

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  • | 1:00 p.m. February 14, 2024
Rabbi Merrill Shapiro
Rabbi Merrill Shapiro
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Local Church-State separation group protests proposed public school chaplaincy program

As the Florida Legislature considers HB 931, creating a policy to permit volunteer public school chaplains, the Atlantic Coast Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State protests the bill as an assault on Thomas Jefferson’s “Wall of Separation” between the realm of religion and the realm of government.

The local group, headquartered in Flagler County, urges legislators to reject HB 931 because it will undoubtedly violate the religious freedom of students who have the right to attend school free from religious coercion and to feel welcome in their school regardless of their religious beliefs. Furthermore, students deserve to have fully qualified counselors.

In a letter to Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, the group notes that “Freedom of religion means that parents—not school officials or state legislatures—have the right to direct their children’s religious education and should be able to entrust that their children will not have a particular religious perspective forced on them while attending our public schools.”

Rabbi Merrill Shapiro, President of the local group notes that “Christian Clergy who volunteer as school chaplains are obligated, under the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 16 to ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation’ and to ‘preach the Good News to everyone!’ Undue pressure will come to bear on vulnerable public school students while the government facilitates proselytizing.”

The Founders of our great country pass to us great wisdom in separating church and state. The best interests of the people of Florida and the legislators of Florida are served by turning down any proposal to welcome volunteer chaplains into our schools.


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