Despite Legal Challenges: The Florida House Passes a Bill that Will Let School Chaplains Work!


CybersecdnOcala Republican Rep. Stan McClain recently introduced a bill that the Florida House Education Quality Subcommittee recently passed. This bill would let public and charter schools have volunteer chaplains come in to help with counseling, as long as parents permit the meetings with students. Concerns about mixing religious guidance with public education led to a big church-state fight, but the bill, HB 931, was approved by a 12-2 vote.

Local school boards would be free to set up their volunteer chaplaincy programs under this plan. It would be up to each school board to decide what chaplains are and what their roles are. Some politicians and famous people have said that this lack of detail is confusing because they are afraid that these chaplains could offer religious counseling, making the difference between the church and the state less clear.

But some people say that putting pastors in public schools might go against the Constitution, especially the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which says that church and state should be kept separate. Additionally, they are worried that the bill might not have clear rules, which could allow people from different or unusual religions to influence students without the right supervision or training. People were worried that untrained people might be able to take on jobs that are usually done by professionals with a lot of training in pastoral care.

Florida House Passes a Bill that Will Let School Chaplains Work

On the other hand, people who support the bill say that it doesn’t support any one religion and that requiring parental approval protects the Constitution. While pointing out that the chaplaincy program is completely optional, they say that the bill just adds another way for students to get help.

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It’s a reflection of larger national conversations about the role of religion in public places, especially schools, that the discussion about the bill keeps going. People in Florida will be paying close attention to how the bill moves through the legislative process because it deals with the tricky issue of how to help kids while also keeping public schools secular.

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