Pirate Fish image courtesy of the CotFSM.
On April 26th, by a vote of 125 to 30, the Missouri House third read and passed HJR 62, a constitutional amendment to be submitted to the voters which will add complications to the definition of religious freedom as stated in the Missouri Constitution.
HJR 62 Proposes a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a citizen’s right to pray and worship on public property and reaffirming a citizen’s right to choose any or no religion
Sponsor: McGhee, Mike (122) Proposed Effective Date: Referendum
CoSponsor: LR Number: 4153L.01P
Last Action: Senate Committee: GENERAL LAWS
05/04/2010 – Executive Session Held (S)
VOTED DO PASS
Next Hearing: Hearing not scheduled
Calendar: Bill currently not on a calendar
The current statement on religious freedom in the Missouri Constitution:
BILL OF RIGHTS
Religious freedom–liberty of conscience and belief–limitations.
Section 5. That all men have a natural and indefeasible 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; that no person shall, on account of his religious persuasion or belief, be rendered ineligible to any public office or trust or profit in this state, be disqualified from testifying or serving as a juror, or be molested in his person or estate; but this section shall not be construed to excuse acts of licentiousness, nor to justify practices inconsistent with the good order, peace or safety of the state, or with the rights of others.
What the Missouri House did on April 26th:
SECOND REGULAR SESSION
95TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES McGHEE (Sponsor), DAVIS, BURLISON, JONES (89), ERVIN, KRAUS, THOMSON, DIECKHAUS, LAIR, DEEKEN, SCHIEFFER, RUZICKA, FUNDERBURK, WELLS, SMITH (150), RUESTMAN, GATSCHENBERGER, COX, WASSON, DETHROW, WILSON (130), WALLACE, WILSON (119) AND KOENIG (Co-sponsors).
4153L.01P D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk
Submitting to the qualified voters of Missouri an amendment repealing section 5 of article I of the Constitution of Missouri, and adopting one new section in lieu thereof relating to the right to pray.
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring therein:
That at the next general election to be held in the state of Missouri, on Tuesday next following the first Monday in November, 2010, or at a special election to be called by the governor for that purpose, there is hereby submitted to the qualified voters of this state, for adoption or rejection, the following amendment to article I of the Constitution of the state of Missouri:
Section A. Section 5, article I, Constitution of Missouri, is repealed and one new section adopted in lieu thereof, to be known as section 5, to read as follows:
Section 5. That all men and women have a natural and indefeasible 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; that no person shall, on account of his or her religious persuasion or belief, be rendered ineligible to any public office or trust or profit in this state, be disqualified from testifying or serving as a juror, or be molested in his or her person or estate; that to secure a citizen’s right to acknowledge Almighty God according to the dictates of his or her own conscience, neither the state nor any of its political subdivisions shall establish any official religion, nor shall a citizen’s right to pray or express his or her religious beliefs be infringed; that the state shall not coerce any person to participate in any prayer or other religious activity, but shall ensure that any person shall have the right to pray individually or corporately in a private or public setting so long as such prayer does not result in disturbance of the peace or disruption of a public meeting or assembly; that citizens as well as elected officials and employees of the state of Missouri and its political subdivisions shall have the right to pray on government premises and public property so long as such prayers abide within the same parameters placed upon any other free speech under similar circumstances; that the General Assembly and the governing bodies of political subdivisions may extend to ministers, clergypersons, and other individuals the privilege to offer invocations or other prayers at meetings or sessions of the General Assembly or governing bodies; that students may express their beliefs about religion in written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their work; that no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs; that the state shall ensure public school students their right to free exercise of religious expression without interference, as long as such prayer or other expression is private and voluntary, whether individually or corporately, and in a manner that is not disruptive and as long as such prayers or expressions abide within the same parameters placed upon any other free speech under similar circumstances; and, to emphasize the right to free exercise of religious expression, that all free public schools receiving state appropriations shall display, in a conspicuous and legible manner, the text of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States; but this section shall not be construed to expand the rights of prisoners in state or local custody beyond those afforded by the laws of the United States, excuse acts of licentiousness, nor to justify practices inconsistent with the good order, peace or safety of the state, or with the rights of others.
Section B. Pursuant to Chapter 116, RSMo, and other applicable constitutional provisions and laws of this state allowing the General Assembly to adopt ballot language for the submission of a joint resolution to the voters of this state, the official ballot title of the amendment proposed in Section A shall be as follows:
“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure:
• That the right of Missouri citizens to express their religious beliefs shall not be infringed;
nbsp; 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.”.
[emphasis (changes) in original]
…that students may express their beliefs about religion in written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their work; that no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs…
Question. If a Pastafarian is served spaghetti at a school lunch will they be able to accuse everyone else in the lunchroom of blasphemy? Just asking.
And then, in the interest of complete religious freedom, there’s this: Morse v. Frederick, 551 U.S. 393 (2007)
What would control? The individual’s religious expression? Who gets to decide? Just asking.
As a commenter pointed out in January:
“Useless laws weaken the necessary laws.”
— Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (1689 – 1755)
And as I concluded in January:
…As long as there are tests there will always be prayer in school. And as long as there’s a Missouri General Assembly there’ll always be state representatives who’ll waste everyone’s time introducing redundant legislation.
Brace yourself for “Talk Like a Pirate Day” in our public schools across Missouri.