Right To Pray Amendment Protects As Much as Right Not To Pray
We should congratulate Missouri and any other states that have taken action to protect our religious freedoms by amending the Missouri Constitution. The newly passed amendment now makes it permissible for students to “read a Bible in study hall" or for individuals "to pray briefly before a City Council meeting."
But here’s the main reason why I think the right to pray amendment is good law. So long as the right to pray also includes the right not to pray, it does not pose a threat to anyone's religious freedoms or freedom to be free from religion guaranteed in our federal constitution. This amendment will not require anyone to participate in prayer, but at the same time, it won't restrict the right to pray. Furthermore, Missouri’s right to pray amendment will allow students the right to refuse to participate in any school activities that he or she feels is contrary to his religious beliefs.
From a personal viewpoint, I think we should do more to allow individuals the right to pray, meditate, or do whatever it is that they need to in order to connect with their faith or express their individual beliefs. I think what opponents worry about is that right to pray will result in disruptive, intrusive, or overbearing conduct by those individuals that choose to exercise their right. Fortunately, there are other measures in place to prevent disruption from taking place.
Also, I think we have too many institutions limiting our abilities to express ourselves and our beliefs under the guise of separation of church and state. Same-sex marriage, for example. Amendments like this is one step in the right direction of allowing people to express their own views.
Prayer in schools has been a hot topic since the early 20th century and most recently in 2000 when individuals filed suits disputing whether "under God" could be said during the pledge of allegiance. It shouldn't. Missouri’s right to pray ultimately does not infringe on rights and is not much different than the moment of silence laws permitted in schools passed by some states 20 and 30 years ago. Most of those laws have survived legal challenges. Moments of silence in schools and public places, like in front of the White House pictured above, is something we should protect both on the sate and federal level.
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 U.S. National Archives/Flickr
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