Should religion electives be required in Florida public schools?

State representative from Jacksonville proposes bill for Bible study elective

By Ashley Harding - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Florida state representative from Jacksonville wants students in public high schools across the state to be offered Bible study as an elective.

Rep. Kimberly Daniels, who founded a church in Jacksonville, proposed a bill that would require districts to offer the elective, but would not require students to take the courses.

Daniels, who is known for her colorful remarks, once thanked God for slavery. 

READ: Proposal for religion elective in public schools

Her bill said courses must follow state and federal guidelines and could not favor, endorse or show hostility toward a particular religion.

The areas of study include but wouldn't be limited to Hebrew scriptures, plus the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The proposal also calls for the classes to be included in the Florida Education Department's Course Code Directory.

The bill also calls for brief meditation time. 

The proposal got the expected mixed reaction in the community.

"To have kids, especially high school age children, to allow them to make different choices and learn things they're interested in is a good thing,” said Arron Paternoster, whose daughter is in high school.

Another local resident supported the bill. 

"It's kind of, in this time, controversial, but I'm not opposed,” Gary Bohannon said.

But not everyone is sold on the idea of religion being included in school curriculum.

"Everyone's religion has changed since back then, and not everyone's views are the same,” said Nadia Quaintance. "If they would just offer it, you know, as a little club or get together after school, that would be fine."

Daniels has not responded to a request for comment.

If approved, the bill would take effect in July, ahead of the new school year.

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