Satanic Temple eyes participation in proposed Florida school chaplain program

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Public schools could opt to allow for chaplains to offer religious guidance to students if their parents give permission under a bill nearing the finish line in the Florida Legislature.


But some argue the bill could have some unintended consequences.

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

The bill aimed at providing opportunities for religious guidance for students could wind up opening the door for the Satanic Temple to insert chaplains in Florida’s public schools.

According to a statement from The Satanic Temple’s Director of Ministry Penemue Grigori provided to the Tallahassee Democrat, “Our ministers look forward to participating in opportunities to do good in the community, including the opportunities created by this bill, right alongside the clergy of other religions.”

Devon Graham, Florida State Director for American Atheists, told Action News Jax based on her read of the bill, the Satanic Temple would have every right to make good on that promise.

READ: Florida Senate advances bill requiring the teaching of Communism History in all public schools

“They are indeed a church and so they can offer up whoever they want as long as they can pass a background check,” said Graham.

“I’m not sure how many are going to pass that,” said State Representative Dean Black (R-Yulee).

Black, one of the chaplain bill’s co-sponsors, argued he’s not worried about the Satanic Temple’s statement.

“It’s also under the purview of the parents. I don’t think many parents are going to want their children meeting with those people,” said Black.

Graham noted while the idea of the Satanic Temple trying to get involved may grab headlines, the fact the chaplain program would presumably have to be open to all religions could create some real issues for districts.

READ: ‘I think it instills fear:’ Northern Florida schools still spanking students in the classroom

“Within the Christian religion alone there are thousands upon thousands of denominations and different sects. So, that’s just one layer of this,” said Graham.

Graham also predicted lawsuits would likely be filed on separation of church and state grounds.

Black on the other hand, argued due to the opt-in nature of the proposal, the bill simply would provide more options for parents to help their students receive guidance in a time when kids are suffering from mental health issues at unprecedented rates.

“There is enough darkness and evil in our society, in our culture and in our schools, and the answer to darkness is always light,” said Black.

But Graham countered lawmakers should put state resources into more traditional guidance counselors who’d be able to help all students, rather than just those of the same religion.

The bill just needs to clear one final vote in the Senate before it’ll be on its way to the Governor’s desk.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.

mobile apps

Everything you love about wokv.com and more! Tap on any of the buttons below to download our app.

amazon alexa

Enable our Skill today to listen live at home on your Alexa Devices!