Democrat and Republican lawmakers join forces to keep prayer in Florida public schools

A Democratic House member and a Republican senator have joined forces to file a bill that would keep prayer in public schools in Florida.

(REUTERS / Marcus Yam / Pool)Local residents attend a community prayer service at the Haller Middle School in Arlington, Washington, April 4, 2014.

Freshman Representative Kimberly Daniels has filed a bill called 'The Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act' which is sponsored by Sen. Dennis Baxley. The said bill aims to stop school districts' discrimination based on religious belief and expression, WFSU details.

"How can a state fund and have chaplains in prisons and not have chaplains in schools?" Daniels asked. "A child should not have to wait to go to prison to meet a chaplain. And I think that says it all."

Sen. Baxley, on the other hand, believes that the U.S. Constitution provides protection for citizens' freedom of speech and expression. However, he also thinks that public schools have stepped beyond their limits by prohibiting any faith-based expression, the Ocala Star Banner reports.

Baxley denounced public schools that admonish coaches against praying with players before competitions and also the schools which send students home for wearing religious accessories or clothing. He said such policies make students a target.

Among other things, Daniels' bill permits students to express their religious viewpoints through written, oral, art and other course works. The bill also aims to allow students to pray and participate in religious activities in school.

Moreover, the bill instructs school districts to grant religious groups the same rights as secular groups. They would also be allowed to join student-initiated religious activities voluntarily and if it does not run in conflict with his or her responsibilities.

The said bill has already been referred to the concerned committees for review. The annual legislative session will start on March 7.

For Baxley, it is high time for the people to push back because the religious rights debates in public schools have been going on for a long time now. He said "eternal vigilance" is needed to achieve freedom, and he is not afraid to tread that path.