(State Sen. Scott Rupp, R-, has released his weekly column for the week of April 2. The opinions expressed in the column are those of Sen. Rupp and do not reflect the views of the Wentzville Patch. —Ed.)
As American citizens, we are guaranteed the right to the freedom of religion. Faith is at the core of many Missouri families, and parents train their children to have strong values in their religion of choice. I’m disappointed to say that many people encounter discrimination for their morals and ethics rooted in their faith, which is simply deplorable.
To provide assurance to Missourians — particularly young students — and to ensure their freedom to express their beliefs in public without fear of injustice, Constitutional Amendment 2, also known as the Missouri Public Prayer Amendment, will appear on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot. The act would guarantee Missourians’ right to pray in public and ensure students’ religious beliefs are protected by giving them the ability to decline to participate in assignments that infringe upon their beliefs.
As affirmed on the Missouri Secretary of State (SOS) website, the official ballot title states: Shall the Missouri Constitution 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 U.S. Constitution.
Here is the ballot language, as outlined by the SOS:
- A "yes" vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to provide that neither the state nor political subdivisions shall establish any official religion. The amendment further provides that a citizen's right to express their religious beliefs regardless of their religion shall not be infringed and that the right to worship includes prayer in private or public settings, on government premises, on public property, and in all public schools. The amendment also requires public schools to display the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.
- A "no" vote will not change the current constitutional provisions protecting freedom of religion.
The ballot language is a result of the passage of HJR 2, which received the Legislature’s stamp of approval and overwhelming support in 2011.
The right to worship and practice our freedom of speech is one of the most important and cherished liberties outlined in our U.S. Constitution. Our country was founded upon the principle that no one should deter us from worshiping as we please and raising our children to have faith. Protecting the religious beliefs and conscience rights of Missourians has been at the forefront of my legislative career, and I’m happy to endorse initiatives that reaffirm our right as American citizens to express our religious beliefs without fear of discrimination.
The Missouri Public Prayer Amendment would support the sanctity of religion, ensure our constitutional liberties, and give Missouri families peace of mind knowing that their children can grow up in our state with their moral and conscience values guarded. I encourage you to read the amendment and educate yourself about the initiative. It’s vital to make your voice heard regarding matters in the Show-Me State, so please make your way to the polls on Aug. 7 and make a difference in your state. To learn more about initiatives on the ballot this year, visit www.sos.mo.gov/elections/2012ballot. For more information about voting, check out www.sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri.
Thank you for reading this legislative column. As always, if I can be of any assistance to you or answer any questions you have about matters in the state of Missouri, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Thank you and God Bless.