Missouri voters approve prayer amendment

Tuesday, August 7, 2012 | 9:27 p.m. CDT; updated 12:20 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 8, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri voters on Tuesday approved a state constitutional amendment that specifically allows public prayer and permits students to avoid assignments that violate their religious beliefs.

The statewide ballot measure says people can pray in public or private so long as they do not disturb the peace, and gives specific permission for a prayer before government meetings. The measure also states that students can express their beliefs and cannot be compelled to participate in school assignments or educational presentations that violate their religion. In addition, public schools will be required to post the text of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Supporters argued the prayer measure will protect students and ensure that prayer is given the same protections as other types of speech. Rep. Mike McGhee, who sponsored the measure in the Legislature, said it ensures everyone knows praying is OK.

The prayer amendment was supported by several religious and conservative organizations, and four Roman Catholic bishops in Missouri issued a joint statement urging Catholics to vote for it.

Missouri's Republican-controlled Legislature has debated measures dealing with prayer for the past several years. Last year, lawmakers overwhelmingly approved referring the issue to this year's ballot, and Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon decided to hold the public vote during the August primary rather than waiting for the November general election.

The Missouri Constitution currently says: "All men have a natural and indefensible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; that no human authority can control or interfere with the rights of conscience." The constitution also says people cannot be declared ineligible for public office or kept from testifying or serving on a jury based upon their religious beliefs.

Several groups that oppose the prayer measure formed the Missouri Coalition to Keep Politics Out of Religion, but opposition before Election Day was fairly limited. Critics argued the proposed changes could create confusion about what is allowed and trigger lawsuits to determine how to apply the new provisions.

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Jamie Kochert August 7, 2012 | 9:44 p.m.

The longer I live in this State, the more backward and out of step with reality and the world it appears. To approve this amendment for something that is already protected is ridiculous. Can't someone please wake up Rip Van Winkle!

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub August 8, 2012 | 9:52 a.m.

I guess now teaching evolution, birth control, women's rights, gay rights, divorce, abortion, etc. etc. etc., is out the window. I don't think it is Rip Van Winkle, but the 3 monkeys. The problem is lack of education and now that will become even worse. At least now those who practice a religion other than fundamental Christianity will have the right to interrupt classes for prayer, meditation, chanting, dancing, maybe even ingesting peyote.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 8, 2012 | 9:55 a.m.


Chuckle. Well, that 82+ percent in "favor" of the amendment is not a small number. Rosman probably didn't sleep a wink.

My reading of the various dem/repub vote counts suggests that dem voters tended to stay away from the polls more than quite a margin. Given how important our "vote" is, that seems fairly "backwards", too, dontcha think?

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub August 8, 2012 | 10:13 a.m.

"Given how important our "vote" is, that seems fairly "backwards", too, dontcha think?" Yes!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 8, 2012 | 10:13 a.m.

GaryS: You know from my past posts that I am an ardent evolutionist and I think many of the current "theories" about a literal interpretation of biblical creation is poppycock.

But I also happen to believe education should be run from a local, then state, level with the fed money (and edicts) kept at arm's length or eliminated entirely.

As such, I believe a community/state should dictate the curriculum. That means I believe if a community wants to go anti-science or teach any damnphool thing it wishes, then so be it. It may be stupid, it may be detrimental to the community over the long haul, but if Mississippi or Texas or Alabama or even Missouri wants to not educate its students, then who am I to say different? Folks who really CARE will move out or not move there in the first place, and those communities will be forced to change or get left behind economically and every other way in which you can think. Too bad for them.

PS: For the record, I voted for #2. My vote was more of a poke-in-the-eye to those who are as evangelical in their anti-religion as those who are evangelic in THEIR religion. 82+% of voters voted in favor of #2; it wasn't even close.

That means you have a fight on your hands.

(Report Comment)

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