On Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law requiring public school classrooms to hold a one-minute moment of silence at the beginning of each day to give students an opportunity for "quiet reflection."
The bill, HB 529, requires teachers in first-period classes in all grades to reserve at least one minute (but not more than two minutes) "during which students may not interfere with other students' participation." The new law says teachers may not make suggestions for the moment of silence. It also encourages parents or guardians to discuss, with their children, the "best use of this time." The word "prayer" is not in the new law, although the text of the law allows prayer.
"In today's hectic society, too few persons are able to experience even a moment of quiet reflection before plunging headlong into the activities of daily life," the text of the new law says. "Young persons are particularly affected by the absence of an opportunity for a moment of quiet reflection. The Legislature finds that our youth, and society as a whole, would be well served if students in the public schools were afforded a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day."
DeSantis, a Republican, said the new law is needed.
"Every family in our state should be able to send their children to school and know that they will be protected from harm and be able to practice their faith," DeSantis said.
He said during a press conference, "The idea that you can just push God out of every institution and you can be successful – I am sorry our Founding Fathers did not believe that."
DeSantis called it an "opportunity to protect religious freedom."
Richard Corcoran, the state's commissioner of education, also applauded the legislature for passing the bill.
"We know that many children struggle with mental health issues, which impact them, their families, and their schools most of all," Corcoran said. "HB 529 empowers families to begin those ongoing conversations with their child on what they might reflect on during the moment of silence, and help them use this time as an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming day."
Rep. Randy Fine, who sponsored the bill, said a moment of silence is needed in a world filled with "technological, media-driven, and societal turmoil."
"Our children desperately need time for quiet reflection," Fine said. "Because it is in those fleeting moments that we find our higher purpose."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Joe Raedle/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.