Missouri voters last Tuesday (Aug. 7) overwhelmingly confirmed their views on religious freedom and worship, approving a state constitutional amendment that supporters feel will provide them protection in public and in schools without fear of their freedom to do so being limited by the state or local authority.
The measure, known as Amendment 2 but commonly referred to as the “Right to Pray” amendment, also protects voluntary prayer in public schools and requires public schools to display a copy of the Bill of Rights.
More than 750,000 voters approved of the amendment, while less than 165,000 voted against.
Missouri voters believe “religious liberty is pretty important to them and a high priority,” Kerry Messer, president of the Missouri Family Network, told the Kansas City Star.
“The public feels like the Supreme Court took this away from them over 50 years ago with a ruling against mandatory school prayer,” he added.
But not everyone is excited about this new piece of legislation, claiming that it is redundant.
Alex Luchenitser of the atheist group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which opposed the measure, explained that he was not surprised with the outcome of the vote.
“This amendment promotes unconstitutional conduct … It’s going to result in a whole lot of litigation.” (NO, it does NOT). But it is still not clear what if any immediate impact the amendment, which takes effect in less than 30 days, will have.
The new amendment broadly expands the protections in the state’s constitution by adding new sections on religious issues. The Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the amendment in June. In part, the Amendment ensures that,
- That the right of Missouri citizens to express their religious beliefs shall not be infringed;
- That school children have the right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools; and
- That all public schools shall display the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.”
In handing down their decision, the Appeals Court affirmed previous U. S. Supreme Court rulings establishing the right of the people to pray in public and in school, and that, “The proposed amendment makes certain, or safeguards, the right to freedom of religious expression by setting forth specific ways to avoid infringing upon this right.”
While Luchenitse believes the measure will draw lawsuits claiming a violation of “church and state,” the United States Supreme Court has on numerous occasions confirmed an individual’s right to pray at school and hold prayer meetings and activities, with one stipulation… the schools MUST allow those people who are “offended” by the activity the ability to “opt-out” of participation. BUT, that objection is NOT a valid legal reason for halting the activity or violating the rights of other students. These issues were both addressed by The American Patriot Alliance in letters to the Seattle Board of Education and in Roswell, New Mexico.
The amendment was introduced by Missouri Representative Michael McGhee in late 2010 and passed by the state legislature in 2011. It is our wish to see ALL states pass similar legislation in an effort to restore America to her Christian roots, morals, and the Constitution!
See the Full Text of Amendment 2 HERE
Photo credit: Lori SR (Creative Commons)