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VOTERS GUIDE: Proposed amendment seeks to secure right to pray in schools

Friday, August 3, 2012 | 3:06 p.m. CDT; updated 8:17 p.m. CDT, Friday, August 3, 2012

COLUMBIA — During its last legislative session, the Missouri General Assembly passed House Joint Resolution No. 2, which would repeal Section 5 of Article I in the Missouri Constitution and secure children's rights to pray in schools.

Who it affects and how it affects them

Individuals

  • People would be secure in their right to acknowledge God.
  • The right to pray and express religious beliefs would not be infringed.
  • People could not be coerced by the state to participate in prayer or other religious activities.

Students

  • Students would be free to express religious beliefs in written and oral assignments without fear of discrimination based on the religious content of their work.
  • Students would not be forced to participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate their religious beliefs.

Schools

  • Schools that receive state funding would be required to display the U.S. Bill of Rights "in a conspicuous and legible manner."

Missouri

  • All political entities, including the state, would be prevented from establishing an official religion.
  • Governing bodies would be allowed to invite ministers, clergy or others to offer prayers or other invocations at meetings.

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Mike McGhee, R-Odessa, and has drawn criticism and support from candidates running in Missouri. Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, called the measure unnecessary. He added the law might allow students to argue that classwork is against their religion.

Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-St. Charles, said earlier this month that the law would "simply specify that (the right to pray) is a religious freedom."

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.


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