August 8, 2012
Missouri Voters Add Prayer Amendment to State Constitution
by Bethany Monk
...Missourians approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday, expanding the state’s foundational document to include new sections regarding prayer and other religious issues.
Amendment 2 ensures that Missouri schoolchildren have to right to initiate prayer and voluntarily acknowledge God in the classroom, and requires all public schools to display the Bill of Rights on campus. It also states the government will not infringe on Missouri residents’ free exercise of religion.
According to The Miami Herald, 779,628 people voted yes on the measure and 162,404 voted no, which represents a 5-1 margin.
State Rep. Mike McGhee told CitizenLink Wednesday he is pleased, not only with the bill’s passage, but with the wide margin of support.
“Maybe we can get some other states on board, and maybe Kentucky or Tennessee or Arkansas will look at this and think: ‘Look what Missouri did,’ and maybe it will make a difference in some of their children’s lives,” he said.
McGhee sponsored the proposal for two years, until it passed in the 2011 legislative session. Petition initiatives are another way constitutional amendments can make it onto the ballot in Missouri.
He said the legislation began with former Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem Carl Bearden, who carried it for a couple of years before McGhee was elected. He credited Bearden as “one of the founding fathers” of the amendment.
McGhee also had accolades for Kerry Messer, president of the Missouri Family Network, and Joe Ortwerth, president of the Missouri Family Policy Council.
“These are just awesome people who helped make this happen,” McGhee said. “You need to take your hats off to them. I have just been the pawn that has moved it around the board for them.”
In addition, the “Right to Pray” measure:
• Ensures individuals’ and groups’ right to pray in private or public places, as long as the prayer does not disturb the peace or disrupt a meeting;
• Allows students to refuse to take part in assignments or presentations that violate their religious beliefs;
• Protects the right to pray on government property; and
• Allows legislative bodies to sponsor prayers and invocations.
“Missourians here in the Show-Me State stated in no uncertain terms that they want to see those religious freedoms preserved and protected,” Ortwerth said.
“The next time there’s a young child singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ swinging on a swingset on the playground there won’t be a teacher go over and say, ‘Hey, you need to change that to ‘Mommy,’ ” he said.