Two early front-runners for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, former President Donald Trump, who resides in Palm Beach, and governor Ron DeSantis, have the ear of several of Florida’s conservative religious leaders.
Hence, even though both men’s political agendas are still being discussed from the pulpit, the clergy’s top political concerns are expected to resound in the national campaign for the religious vote.
The main concerns raised by the religious leaders include immigration, which is particularly important in Florida because it is a destination for hundreds of thousands of immigrants and is home to politically significant Latino diasporas.
Trump has talked about capitalizing on his legacy in a second term and made stopping illegal immigration a key component of his previous campaigns, frequently using vehement rhetoric. DeSantis, who isn’t running yet but is widely anticipated to do so, has been more cautious about immigration changes in Florida while drawing attention to problems with families and schools.
Several pastors advocate for changing immigration laws, especially in South Florida, which has a sizable Latino population. In addition to additional assistance for the regularization and integration of undocumented migrants making a positive economic and social contribution to American communities, they seek a more orderly process at a time of record high unlawful border crossings.
Yet, religious leaders focus on protecting their followers and young people in general from what they perceive as attempts to impose through public education conceptions of marriage, family, and identity that are at odds with their values.
The “parental rights” debate, according to some LGBTQ activists, teachers’ unions, and others, is being exploited to introduce conservative politics into public schools.
However, pastors like Frank López of Jesus Worship Center in the Miami suburb of Doral argue that exposing kids to certain kinds of sexually explicit material in the classroom without their parent’s consent amounts to political indoctrination and “brings turmoil to a family.”