Florida State Representative Kim Daniels has again introduced legislation that would change optional public school curriculum offerings related to religion into required curriculum options that all school districts across the state must offer. The bill, which is similar to one offered in the last legislative session by Rep. Daniels that failed to advance out of committee, would mandate that every district make available to high school students both an “objective study of religion” and “an objective study of the Bible.”
In the spirit of church-state separation, House Bill 341 does at least offer this requirement:
A course offered pursuant to this section must: …
Follow all state and federal laws and guidelines in maintaining religious neutrality and accommodating the diverse religious views, traditions, and perspectives of all students in the school. A course offered pursuant to this section may not endorse, favor, or promote or disfavor or show hostility toward a particular religion, religious perspective, or nonreligious faith.
If enacted, House Bill 341 would place Florida alongside other states that have passed similar legislation promoting the Bible in the public school curriculum. Bills recently advanced in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and Virginia, however, only authorize school districts to offer classes on the Bible. The new bill in Florida (where school districts are already authorized to offer Bible-related classes) would go further by requiring school districts to offer electives on religion and on the Bible to high school students.
Most concerning, the proposal appears to come right out of the Project Blitz playbook. Project Blitz is a coordinated campaign to introduce bills — many of which are inspired by Christian nationalism — in state legislatures across the country. Religious liberty advocates including BJC have opposed the Project Blitz campaign, calling it “an alarming effort … to harness the power of the government to impose the faith of some onto everyone else, including our public school students.”
For more on Project Blitz, check out episode 5 and episode 6 of the extraordinary BJC Podcast series on the dangers of Christian Nationalism, which launched this summer. Listen to all 10 episodes in the series, but those two specifically discuss the rise of legislation like this bill in legislatures across the country.