Monday, March 24, 2014

Florida Trying to Control Textbooks

Hays at work

It’s easy to say that Republican Florida State Sen. Alan Hays is at it again.  After all, he’s the fellow who tried to get a law passed that would prevent city buses from stopping to load and unload passengers on busy streets after he was inconvenienced while driving home.

The Orlando Sentinel called that effort “petty” and “disgusting.”

Wonder what the paper thinks of his latest attempt to control people’s lives?  He wants to give local school boards the right to select textbooks.

Naturally, his Republican colleagues are enthused.  “This legislation eliminates any suggestion of federal intrusion and affirms local control of a local responsibility,” said Republican Senate President Don Gaetz.

It also guarantees that some students will get an education and some won’t.  It ensures that religious groups will fight to eliminate subjects like evolution don’t get near the minds of impressionable youth.  It continues Florida’s dismal efforts to limit educational opportunities.

According to an independent study of Florida spending on education, the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times found that “one way is to compare how much money a state provides for education per pupil, and by that measure Florida ranked 48th, according to the Census.”

There’s no point asking what Hays thinks.  A similar newspaper investigation into four statements Hays made regarding different topics found that he mostly lied twice and was completely lying a third time.  He said:

1) Proof of citizenship isn’t necessary before you register to vote in Florida. (mostly false)

2) Your tax dollars are not being used to sue you, the people. (false)

3) The Florida Legislature has not file a lawsuit to fight (redistricting) Amendments 5 and 6 (mostly false)

4) He didn’t lie when he said that he was not spending money to fight the amendments.

A 25 percent batting average hardly equates to confidence in anything the part-time dentist says.

Hays is also the same legislator who has twice co-sponsored a bill that “bans courts or other legal authorities from using religious or foreign law as a part of a legal decision or contract relating to family law. Florida law would supersede foreign law regarding divorce, alimony, the division of marital assets, child support and child custody.”

Besides being unnecessary – judges follow state and national law – the bill has managed to do something thought impossible: unite Moslems and Jews. 

Ahmed Bedier, president of the United Voices for America, said, "We may disagree what is happening in the Middle East, but we agree on this bill — that it discriminates and targets our communities."

Not to Hays, but he has already set a low bar for veracity.

He’s the same person who pushed a bill to allow the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to sell $50 million of land set aside for conservation, a move that sparked a huge outcry from environmental groups and residents with homes near some of the designated parcels.

The ultimate failure here belongs to the voters, who continually elect Hays and other politicians with private agendas who then attempt to impose them on the public.  As long as voters give such people the power and platform to operate, the longer all of us will have to endure their misguided efforts.

Maybe someone should write a textbook on how to tell the difference.

Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history.  He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida.  You can reach him at  He is the author of the famed Unauthorized Biography of Nostradamus; The Last Testament of Simon Peter; The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Dummies Guide to Comparative Religion.  His books are available on, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers.  He can also be followed on Twitter.

You can enroll in his on-line class, Comparative Religion for Dummies, at

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