In Praise of Bipartisan Efforts to Defend Religious Liberty in Florida Schools

These days it seems that our religious liberty is under almost constant assault from the left.

Across the nation men, women, and children are being hounded by anti-Christian bigots in their places of work, in their schools, and even in their homes.

Now, some states are taking measures to ensure the safety and liberty of their people of faith by passing new measures to reinforce what the First Amendment clearly dictates. Americans of good conscience are free to believe what they will, and they are free to practice their faiths freely, so long as their faith does not infringe on the rights of others.

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Florida has become the epicenter of that struggle as legislators attempt to rein in the bigoted behavior of anti-Christian zealots working local schools and other government organizations.

What began as isolated incidences in the Sunshine State grew into a string of anti-Christian attacks against students in recent years. A math teacher in Hillsborough County, Florida, a proponent of the LGBT agenda and a lesbian, told a student she couldn’t wear a cross in her classroom because the cross represents a gang symbol, said Anthony Verdugo, founder and executive director of Christian Family Coalition Florida.

“Three years ago, a student named Giovanni Rubeo, an elementary school student at Park Lakes Elementary School in Lauderdale Lakes, was reprimanded by a teacher, taken to the principal’s office and had his parents pulled from work, all for reading a Bible during his free reading time in school,” Verdugo said. “Obviously this teacher felt that her rules overrode the First Amendment.”

There are also cases against prayer in public school in Florida, Verdugo said.

“Through these cases and others, we established there was a need in Florida for the Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act to remedy these cases of discrimination,” Verdugo said.

These incidents are not random, but part of a larger philosophical struggle taking place in our culture.

“From my perspective, there is a very anti-Christian sentiment in many of our public schools,” said Daniel Diaz. “Teachers are afraid to mention anything related to their faith, so much so that their fear and caution gets passed on to the students as if the students were an extension of the state, because they attend a publicly-funded school. Also, because of the political correctness and sue-happy culture we live in, school districts are doing everything they can to prevent potential lawsuits by passing anti-religious expression policies that limit the students from doing things as simple as reading their bibles during free time, or drawing pictures of biblical figures which they consider heroes.”

“We’ve seen the censorship of speeches of valedictorians and graduation exercises,” said Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-District 12). “We’ve had school personnel told they couldn’t have a Bible on their desk. I think that’s too tight.”

Thankfully, in Florida Republicans and Democrats are coming together in agreement to defend religious liberty and the rights of Floridians to practice their faith as they see fit.

“I have a conviction that we spend an awful lot of time teaching the students the how of life and I see a void when it comes to the why of life,” Baxley said. “Faith expressions give us the why of life and what is transpiring is we’re violating that [liberty] and replacing it with secular humanism.”

He added, “There’s always going to be some value system of how we apply knowledge and I think school administrators certainly have due authority over keeping order and minimizing disruptions and I certainly trust them to apply that responsibility in this atmosphere at the same time.”

But Baxley believes faith practices shouldn’t interfere with the educational process, they should enhance it: “I have great empathy for our educators and administrators for managing an environment that can be difficult, but our priority in America should be keeping that liberty alive,” he said. “I had a question on the Senate floor of whether this would open the door for some hate, and I said no—it might actually foster some love.”

While Florida is ready to defend their people of faith, the battle continues to rage across the nation. States with more left-wing values continue to pass laws that discriminate against Christians and even demand fines or punishments be levied if Christians refuse to comply with laws that violate their conscience.

We need more Constitutionally faithful legislators to be willing to risk their positions, and more voters being willing to get involved in the fight to defend the First Amendment… we can’t win if we don’t fight back.


Onan Coca

Onan is the Editor-in-Chief at Romulus Marketing. He's also the managing editor at, and the managing partner at Onan is a graduate of Liberty University (2003) and earned his M.Ed. at Western Governors University in 2012. Onan lives in Atlanta with his wife and their three wonderful children. You can find his writing all over the web.

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