FFRF Action Fund, the advocacy arm of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has named Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis its “Theocrat of the Week” while commending Rep. Pramila Jayapal as “Secularist of the Week.”
At a time when sex education and access to information is under assault, Jayapal, a member of the Congressional Freethought Caucus, introduced a resolution to support May as “Sex Ed for All Month.” The resolution calls for providing young people with complete, accurate and inclusive sexual health information, and access to sexual and reproductive health care services. Says Jayapal, “Sexual and reproductive health is an issue of social justice.”
DeSantis earned his “theocrat” branding by opening earlier this week the National Religious Broadcasters conference (described as a “gathering of Christian communicators”) with pandering avowals of his piety, promises to defend faith and family, vows to fight “woke” agendas and complaints that “the people that are in power now do not like people of faith.” Among his comments was a painful anecdote about losing “holy water” from Israel and how “my first job as governor, after getting sworn in on the steps of the Capitol, was to go back to the governor’s residence . . . to get our son Mason baptized.” He concluded his remarks by urging, “Put on the full armor of God . . . and don’t ever, ever back down.”
DeSantis began pitching the “armor of God” rhetoric, a reference to Ephesians 6, while visiting Hillsdale College, an evangelical school in Michigan, last year. Ephesians 6 reads: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” DeSantis substituted “the left’s schemes” for “the devil’s schemes” during those remarks. The rest of the passage talks about fighting “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Under DeSantis’ guidance, the Florida Legislature this session has:
- Passed the largest expansion of Florida’s school voucher program, which makes all K-12 students in Florida eligible for a private school voucher, regardless of religion, also covering home-schooled children and creating an education savings account — carrying an estimated $200 million-plus price tag.
- Outlawed gender-affirming care for minors.
- Passed a ban on abortion at six weeks.
- Banned classroom instruction or mention on sexual orientation and gender identity from pre-K through eighth grade, expanding the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” in such a way that even mentioning menstruation before sixth grade is verboten.
- Banned children from attending drag shows, including readings intended for children.
- Criminalized the use of a washroom that doesn’t comport with the gender assigned at birth, including for fully transitioned transgender persons.
- Eliminated the use of preferred pronouns that don’t correspond with sex assigned at birth in public schools.
- Took over the Florida high school athletic board to give schools up to two minutes to broadcast messages over the PA system so that private schools can promote Christian prayers.
- Barred transgender girls from participating in school sports for girls.
- Passed the “Stop Woke Act” (which takes effect in July) restricting educating children about true and accurate history, including the legacy of racism.
“Regrettably, it appears that DeSantis, who took an oath to uphold America’s secular Constitution, wants to turn Florida from the state once renowned for Disney World to one where white Christian nationalism reigns supreme,” comments Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF Action Fund president.
This agenda is so pronounced that the NAACP has issued a travel advisory warning African Americans and LGBTQ individuals about the state of Florida being “openly hostile” to them.
FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues.