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FL Gov. DeSantis Signs Law Allowing Chaplains in Public Schools, ACLU and Satanists Push Back

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Florida schools will now have the option to allow a volunteer chaplain on campus to counsel students after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law last week.

HB 931, passed overwhelmingly in both the Florida House and Senate earlier this year by a vote of 89-25 and 28-12, respectively.

The new law will take effect on July 1 and will allow voluntary chaplains to "provide supports, services, and programs to students as assigned by the district school board or charter school governing board." 

The only requirement is chaplains must pass a background check and that school administrators publicize each chaplain's religious affiliation.

In a press conference last week, DeSantis stressed that the program was voluntary. 

"It's our view that if school districts want to bring in chaplains to offer voluntary services, they're within their right to do so," he said.

"It's totally voluntary for a parent or a student to participate. No one's being forced to do anything. But to exclude religious groups from campus, that is discrimination. You're basically saying that God has no place. That's wrong. That's not what our Founding Fathers intended," DeSantis added. 

Florida is among more than a dozen states that have sought to create school chaplain programs. 

As CBN News has reported, Texas became the first state to incorporate such a program under a law passed in 2023.

As Texas faced a shortage of qualified mental health professionals to work in schools, the chaplaincy program gave school districts "every tool that we can in the toolbox" to combat mental health problems and other crises. 

"This is just to help supplement and complement our counselors in doing the job that (are) working really hard," said State Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant) last year. 

Supporters of Florida's legislation argue the law provides another resource for children and they point to the success of chaplaincy programs in other government roles such as the military and police departments. 

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"Trained chaplains have been the traditional 'spiritual' first responders in our military, and they can make a positive difference in the lives of students and teachers. While the law does not stipulate any qualification requirements for the chaplains, school boards should be very selective in choosing trained chaplains with counseling and ministry experience," explained Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver.

Opponents who take issue with the new law contend that the volunteer chaplains aren't required official training and fear some students might be ostracized if they are atheists or belong to a non-Christian religion. 

"When you have a military chaplain, they go through intensive training and they have to be in a position where they can provide information which is factually correct and appropriate to the situation," said Democratic Sen. Lori Berman of Palm Beach County. "Let's put the trained professionals in and not some unlicensed, untrained people with a religious affiliation."

Meanwhile, representatives of the Satanic Temple told they intend to take advantage of the law.

"We're not playing those games in Florida," DeSantis said in response to the concern of Satanists being allowed to become chaplains. "That is not a religion. That is not qualified to be able to participate in this. So, we're going to be using common sense when it comes to this. You don't have to worry about it."

The ACLU of Florida, along with Interfaith Alliance, and National Education Association warned that the new law could be challenged in court arguing that it's unconstitutional. 

"Public schools are not Sunday schools and chaplains are not school counselors. Allowing chaplains to assume official positions — whether paid or voluntary — in public schools as counselors or other support staff will undermine this right by creating an environment ripe for evangelizing and religious coercion of students in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," the organization said.

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About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.