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DeSantis signs bill requiring ‘moment of silence’ in Florida schools

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida K-12 public schools must hold a moment of silence at the start of each day starting next school year, after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law Monday requiring the practice.

The bill drew criticism from liberal groups that it amounts to government-required prayer, but Republicans and some Democratic supporters during the hearings on the bill insisted it was not requiring prayers but merely a moment of reflection and silence.

DeSantis, though, explicitly couched the new law as a way to bring God into the classrooms.

“The idea that you can just push God out of every institution and be successful, I’m sorry, our Founding Fathers did not believe that,” DeSantis said before signing the bill.

But bill sponsor Rep. Randy Fine said the bill was “not a prayer in school bill,” during debate on the House floor when it passed in March. He suggested students could use the time to think about homework or “get centered before the start of the day.”

 

Fine attended the bill signing ceremony, which took place at a Jewish community center in Miami-Dade County, but didn’t talk about the bill in his brief remarks, which instead touched on the increase in anti-Semitic attacks across the country.

But Rep. Michael Caruso, R-Delray Beach, called the bill “the first step in getting God back in our communities.”

DeSantis also signed HB 805 at the event, which allows volunteer ambulance services, such as Hatzalah, a South Florida volunteer emergency response team for Jewish communities, to legally respond to emergencies, including with emergency lights on their vehicles, just as regular ambulances and first responders have.

—Orlando Sentinel

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