March 23, 2012
Today, in response to Governor Scott signing the so-called ‘inspirational messages’ bill into law, The Anti-Defamation League, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the ACLU sent separate letters to Florida’s 67 school districts warning of the dangers of implementing a local policy which would permit religious messages to be presented at official school functions.
Below are statements from each of the three organizations regarding the new law and their letters:
“Legislators are clearly inviting Florida school boards to plunge into a legal swamp. I hope school board members turn down the invitation. It’s wrong to subject students to coercive prayer and proselytizing. Our public schools should respect diversity, not undermine it.”
Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Executive Director
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
“Our public schools are for all children regardless of their religion. But this law could require children as young as five to observe prayers to Allah, Buddha, Jesus or other faiths contrary to their religious upbringing at mandatory student assemblies. It is completely contrary to our public schools’ inclusive nature, and the law will only serve to divide students, schools and communities along religious or other lines. In America, the question of one’s religion or faith is extremely personal and private. It is not a question that is put to the discretion of government or other people. To ensure all children’s religious freedom, we urge school districts not to implement this imprudent law.”
David Barkey, Religious Freedom Counsel
The Anti-Defamation League
“The Legislature has made it clear their plan is to entice local districts to create unnecessary, unconstitutional and religiously divisive policy and get sued -- and pass the buck on the legal bills to the school districts.
“School districts need to know the path ahead is costly and unproductive, and that they don’t have to take it. We have written to every Florida school superintendent urging that they decline the Legislature’s invitation to become a test case.”
Howard Simon, Executive Director
ACLU of Florida
Copies of the letters are available at: