Gov. Rick Scott prays with group on National Day of Prayer

Religion played major role this legislative session


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Church and state joined together Thursday on the National Day of Prayer at Florida's Capitol, where it has been held for the past two decades. Religion played a major role in this legislative session.

The 64th annual National Day of Prayer was a faith gathering at public buildings across the country.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott prayed with the group.

"We are very blessed to live in this unbelievable country," Scott said. "We're blessed to live in the greatest state in the nation. You've blessed each of us to have the opportunity to live here."

Religion had a strong role in high-profile bills during 2015's legislative session. The Legislature voted to repeal a ban on gay adoption that is no longer enforced. The bill is awaiting government approval.

It also prompted the House to pass a religious freedom proposal that would have allowed private adoption agencies to refuse services to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs. It never passed the Senate.

"Please join me in a prayer for life and religious liberty," said Michael Sheedy, of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Advocates said faith should be the guiding force for legislators.

"All of us should let our faith guide us in everything that we do," said Pam Olsen, of the Florida Prayer Network. "Lawmakers do not have to check their faith at the door. We're going to legislate somebody's morality, aren't we, in everything that we do in government? So I think it's great that they do what's right."

A 24-hour abortion waiting period bill also cleared both chambers this year. Pro-choice groups fought it every step of the way, but it cleared easily.

The governor hasn't committed to vetoing or signing either bill. But people who describe Scott as "a strong pro-life governor" are betting that he signs the waiting period proposal.