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ron desantis, bible ban, florida book ban

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Bible.

There’s a strange bit of hypocrisy going down in the state of Florida. During the COVID pandemic, it was a place where some protested lockdowns and mask mandates under the umbrella of personal freedom. But now, some of the same lawmakers in the state are doing an about-face and pushing to ban certain books in its public schools.

Last month, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that allows parents to recommend certain instructional materials be banned from the schools. More than 200 books (mostly those that deal with race, sexuality or LGBTQ+ issues) have been banned in school districts across the state since the law took effect.

Chaz Stevens, a resident of Deerfield Beach, Florida, believes that parents and districts are overlooking one book that contains genocide, slavery, talk of LGBTQ issues, bestiality, misogyny, rape and child sacrifice. You may have heard of it. It's commonly referred to as "the Bible."


Stevens sent petitions to public school superintendents across the state asking districts to "immediately remove the Bible from the classroom, library, and any instructional material," Stevens wrote. "Additionally, I also seek the banishment of any book that references the Bible."

"My goal is to use the law as our expert politicians in Tallahassee intended," Stevens said. "There were no carve-outs for religious texts, so I would assume they meant for them to be in play.”

Billy Epting, assistant superintendent of Leon County Schools, is taking the suggestion seriously and reviewing the complaint.

“If I don’t, that creates a situation where I’m showing favoritism or injecting personal opinion in the process," he said. "The last thing I want to do is pretend or take something as a joke or satirical and it comes back to bite us.”

In Stevens’ letter, he gives numerous reasons why the Bible is inappropriate to have in Florida schools. One reason he claims is that the bible teaches “wokeness” which is a clear jab at the state’s recent ban on teaching Critical Race Theory.

“With the constant babbling concerns about teaching Critical Race Theory, should we not take stock of the Bible’s position on slavery? I am concerned our young white students will read such passages and wake up to civilization’s sordid past,” Stevens writes before referencing Paul’s pro-slavery Epistle to the Ephesians where he notes that servants should be “obedient to them that are your masters.”

Stevens also warns that the talk of bestiality in the Bible violates Florida law. “Taking a cue from Florida Statute Ch. 847.001 6(a,b,c), one should consider such discussions to be harmful to minors and obscene,” he writes.

He also cautions that some of the positive, humane messages in the Bible may teach children “to show empathy for their classmates” and that could lead them one step closer to “getting their LGBTQ+ freak on.”

The self-proclaimed “stunt activist” successfully got several cities in the state to drop the religious invocations that open their city commission meetings seven years ago. Stevens demanded they either stop the invocations or allow him, a self-described “minion of Satan" to lead a prayer to the Prince of Darkness before meetings.

To avoid having to give equal time to a “Satanist,” the cities stopped doing religious invocations, with some switching over to a moment of silence.

"My activism in the past has been wildly successful," Stevens said. "And, I imagine, will continue on a similar trajectory."

DeSantis' craven use of political power to give anyone with an ax to grind the right to silence the voices of people of color and diminish LGBTQ+ visibility is as regressive as it is short-sighted. Stevens’ campaign has brilliantly exposed the unintended consequences of DeSantis’ law. Once like-minded people begin to follow his lead, lawmakers will have to learn a lesson humanity learned decades ago: banning books is no way to create social change.

Health

A child’s mental health concerns shouldn’t be publicized no matter who their parents are

Even politicians' children deserve privacy during a mental health crisis.

A child's mental health concerns shouldn't be publicized.

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


It's an unspoken rule that children of politicians should be off limits when it comes to public figure status. Kids deserve the ability to simply be kids without the media picking them apart. We saw this during Obama's presidency when people from both ends of the political spectrum come out to defend Malia and Sasha Obama's privacy and again when a reporter made a remark about Barron Trump.

This is even more important when we are talking about a child's mental health, so seeing detailed reports about Ted Cruz's 14-year-old child's private mental health crisis was offputting, to say it kindly. It feels icky for me to even put the senator's name in this article because it feels like adding to this child's exposure.

When a child is struggling with mental health concerns, the instinct should be to cocoon them in safety, not to highlight the details or speculate on the cause. Ever since the news broke about this child's mental health, social media has been abuzz, mostly attacking the parents and speculating if the child is a member of the LGBTQ community.

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Putting creative work out into the world to be evaluated and judged is nerve-wracking enough as it is. Having to market your work, especially if you're not particularly extroverted or sales-minded, is even worse.

So when you're a newly published author holding a book signing and only two of the dozens of people who RSVP'd show up, it's disheartening if not devastating. No matter how much you tell yourself "people are just busy," it feels like a rejection of you and your work.

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The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn't have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women's rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn't something we'd choose—and we'd hope others wouldn't choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

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