NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Amid a long-running legal battle, the Florida House appears poised to pass a bill that would allow high-school speakers to offer remarks, including prayers, over public-address systems before athletic championship games.

The House on Tuesday took up the bill (HB 1027), sponsored by Rep. Webster Barnaby, R -Deltona, and positioned it for a vote. The measure comes during a lawsuit over a decision by the Florida High School Athletic Association in 2016 to block Cambridge Christian School of Tampa from offering a prayer over the public-address system before a football championship game at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium.

The school filed a federal lawsuit that contends the decision violated its First Amendment rights. The athletic association has argued that allowing a prayer over the loudspeaker would have been viewed as “government speech.”

Under questions from Democrats, Barnaby said the bill would leave decisions up to schools about speakers and vetting remarks.

“There’s nothing in this bill that says this is a two-minute prayer,” he said. But Rep. Christopher Benjamin, D-Miami Gardens, asked how a prayer would not be considered “government sponsored.”

A Senate version of the bill (SB 880) has not moved forward in committees.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.