Missouri’s Right to Pray Amendment Is Redundant

praying handsOn 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

censorship, discrimination, education, human rights, in the news, law, media, politics, religion


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

stork... storkneedsgps

I'm a Missouri teacher and this bill worries me because there are parents who will use it as an excuse to not have their students learn things. I'm not even talking about things like evolution, I'm talking about things like these: Parents who don't want their students to learn about dinosaurs because they claim they never existed and have told their kids to answer " dinosaurs don't exist, the earth is only 6000 years old". I can understand not wanting your kids to know about evolution but dinosaurs? Your kids need to know about dinisaurs to be educated! They don't have to believe. We also teach about religions, including Christianity from a historical and cultural standpoint. Its taught in a way that you learn about the religion and kids are told many times they are not being pressured to believe anything but if you are going to be an educated person, you need to know what others believe. Parents are always fine with learning about the Bible and Jesus from a historical perspective but we always have some parent get mad when we talk about Jewish people even though the Jewish history is part of the Christian history. When we get to Islam.....forget it! We even have parents who don't want their kids to learn about the Holocaust because they hate Jews and don't believe in it.

stork... storkneedsgps


The best was a father who didn't want seatbelts used as an example in physics class because a "real man can feel the car move and is strong enough to hold themselves in and Jesus will save him so he don't need to know about seatbelts".

I teach several subjects and yes these are true. I am happy the right to pray isn't threatened, which it never was where I'm from but a right to an education might be.

PonyC... PonyChaser

Stork, how would this *change* a parent's wanting or not wanting their child to learn those things you've stated? All of those things happened before the amendment was passed, so obviously it was already happening.

I agree that they are all, um, crazy. I know some fundamentalist Christians (maybe the ones I know are Pentacostal. I'm not sure of the difference. regardless...) who believe the "Earth is only 6000 years old" thing, and have gone so far as to homeschool their children because of it. They treated a visit to that 'amusement park' in Tennessee (?) as part of their homeschool curriculum, and any outside religion is strictly verboten.

You are going to find those kinds of parent anywhere - amendment or no amendment - and in every religion. You just hear about it most in Christianity because that is the religion that the majority of people subscribe to.

AliNo... AliNoelle

Jenny wth? You keep making sense and it scares me lol.

mamma... mamma1993

I live in Missouri and sometimes I do believe we here have to be reminded of the laws and how they apply to us.I am not calling everyone in this state idiots but we do have our fair share.I kept my 3 oldest children in catholic school until our parish closed it.When my daughter,at the time in 1st grade,said her prayer to herself before lunch all hell broke loose.She came home so ashamed for having been bad.I am sorry that some people clump those who pray with those that go to extremes.I did go to school with her and we did speak to the teacher as well as the principle.They informed me she was in the wrong.My daughter spoke up at that moment and said don`t worry mommy I can just pray extra at home.That just is not right you know.

NatAndCo NatAndCo

the problems with having prayer in school is that not everyone prays the same. I guarantee you that someone with have a problem with something. The non-christians will have an issue with someone vocally praying to jesus in front of their child. And god forbid a Jewish or Muslim child says a morning prayer in a classroom.

If that is indeed the wording of the bill, then its worded horribly and allows for so many issues to come up in the future. There is no allowance for what is or isnt an appropriate time for it, the manner in which the views are expressed, what to do if their religious views are directed negatively toward another child (I was told by my christian friends in middle school that I was going to burn in hell for not accepting Jesus), etc.

Religion is tricky for adults. Its not any easier for kids.

jagam... jagamama0710

The right to pray and the school actively forcing a specific religion down the kids throats are two very, very different things. A public school should not be leading the student body in prayer, for instance. They should not put on assemblies related to religion or supporting the beliefs of certain religions. However, kids of all religions should be allowed to pray in schools. Individuals should be allowed to say a prayer before their friggin' lunch if they want to.  The school itself should not be involved. Parents can just suck it up and deal if their child's schoolmate prays to a different god than they worship. 

And that ^^^ is coming from a person who doesn't follow organized religion at all. 

Scorp... ScorpioDee

As long as it is only the 'right'...and nobody makes them pray to anything or listen to the bs religion teaches... When kids are old enough they need to make up their own minds. 

1-8 of 8 comments