On Tuesday, Missouri voters voted in favor of the Right-to-Pray Amendment by a whopping 83 percent. The bill doesn’t change any laws -- it reiterates the freedoms protected to Americans by the Bill of Rights. That whole freedom of religion thing in particular.
The amendment’s ballot title asked voters if the Missouri Constitution should be amended to ensure:
• 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
So, if all of those rights are already protected under the federal Constitution, why did legislators put it on the ballot in Missouri? Hi, Department of Redundancy Department! But I repeat myself. This is government we’re talking about.
Critics of the bill include Democratic state Rep. Mike Kelly, who called it a “jobs bill for lawyers.” Another concern is that students will be able to opt out of any schoolwork that “conflicts with their faith.” For example, fundamentalist Christians might be sensitive to literature containing salty language or sexual overtones -- pretty much anything by Shakespeare comes to mind. That dude was deliciously sexually deviant.
Whatever. I expect teachers, students, and parents to have more common sense than to allow kids to stop taking algebra because their god demands separation of numbers and letters. As with all things, good judgment and discernment are required to make the best decisions for individuals and groups.
This bill was most likely passed as a push-back to the cultural negativity toward religious values. Just look at what happened to Chick-Fil-A when company president Dan Cathy had the gall to say that he is supportive of the Biblical definition of the family.
Kids in school will still not be forced to pray to any god that they don’t choose to worship. Hopefully this amendment will keep people from feeling pressured into silence over their faith. It’s hard enough to figure out your place in the world while growing up -- let’s remind kids that freedom, including religious freedom, reigns in America.
This post is part of a weekly conversation with our Moms Matter 2012 political bloggers. To see the original question and what the other writers have to say, see Do States Need Right to Pray Amendments?
Image via jemasmith/Flickr