How Rights Become Privileges: MO Amendment 2

| August 8, 2012 | 15 Replies

The 2012 Missouri primary had several important lessons to impart. The first, which I may have discussed in previous election years, is that the way to bring the “correct” voters to the polls is to have an apparently innocuous but important candidate or issue and a loud, contentious issue or candidate that only seems to matter to one side.

In this primary cycle, there was a preponderance of hotly contested Republican seats, and a very dangerous, never advertised Tea Party constitutional amendment. Republicans came out to vote overwhelmingly, and the Amendment passed resoundingly.

The full body of the amendment is at the bottom of this article.

Basically on the ballot it read as if it was just reinforcing the first clause of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

  • In reality, it says that people have the right to worship the (singular, Christian) Almighty God (but not all those others) including to pray whenever their conscience dictates (such as during science classes).
  • Public meetings can now be started with exclusionary prayers as long as the officiant is invited by someone.
  • I have not yet figured out how the mandatory publishing of the Bill of Rights in schools will be twisted, but I expect as a precedent to posting the Ten Commandments adjacent (as an alleged inspirational source)
  • Students cannot be punished for refusing to do assignments that might conflict with their faith (evolution, geology, astronomy, etc).

So I expect Missouri to soon be incurring legal fees on the order of replacing several major bridges, or (more likely) in lieu of funding science education for a decade.

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.

Share

Category: advertising, Anti-science, Civil Rights, Current Events, Fraud, ignorance, Ingroup/Outgroup, Law, Media, Orwellian, Politics, Propaganda, Religion

About the Author ()

A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (15)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Erich Vieth says:

    There is no doubt in my mind that this is going to lead to more Bibles making their way into science classrooms. I wonder whether anyone is going to mount a legal challenge, though, since the Amendment prohibits disruption in the classroom, and since the prayer needs to be private.

    We’ll see how this new law actually affects behavior in schools. You might well be right, though, that this will lead to violations of the 1st Amendment (which this law ironically requires to be displayed), and substantial expenditures of local or state money to attorneys.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Missouri does have issues, but check out Louisiana, where the newly privatized schools will now use tax dollars to teach lots of rubbish. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/07/photos-evangelical-curricula-louisiana-tax-dollars

  3. Steve Houldsworth says:

    I have received a revelation from the Almight God, MuMu. MuMu has revealed to me that all physical activity should have a purpose beyond just the exercise of the body. Calisthenics, athletic competitions, jopgging, and the like are all abominations. I invite all awkward middle-schoolers to convert. Of course, all good MuMu-ites would need to be excused from gym.

  4. Jim Razinha says:

    Hypothetical biology test question:
    Q: Describe the natural selection theory of evolution
    A: Evolution is the Devil’s work, meant to try to deceive me and sway my faith.

    Does the respondent get full or no credit? Or, would that question never be asked? Highly disturbing (says the man who lives in a state with a Board of Education bent on rewriting history and science textbooks – fortunately, we home educate our children.)

  5. Bryan says:

    that no human authority can control or interfere with the rights of conscience; …; that to secure a citizen’s right to acknowledge Almighty God according to the dictates of his or her own conscience

    This to me is more worrying than the statement on academic assignments (worrying as that is; at a minimum, I expect there will be some discipline problems — that now pose constitutional issues — when students get word of this). It sounds like a lot of pharmacists can now refuse to provide birth control (just as an example) based on their religious conscience.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Bryan. I agree with your concern. This amendment turns the First Amendment shield into a sword–an invitation for people to invoke religion in their efforts to deny others secular rights.

  6. Erich Vieth says:

    Here’s how the ballot, which passed with 83% of the vote, read here in Missouri:

    Religion ballot in Missouri

  7. David says:

    And this should be understood in the context of The Manhattan Declaration, which is being used as a guiding document for this overall “rights of conscience” strategy – generating test cases and framing them as if Christian Nationalism is the rebirth of the Underground Railroad or The White Rose. They’ve been constructing this narrative for quite a while, and are now openly advocating that believers violate the law. It nicely dovetails with the “sovereign citizens” movement too.

  8. Dan Klarmann says:

    From the scant coverage in the local news, I noticed that the “Bill of Rights” shown as examples of what will be posted are poor paraphrases for the actual bill.

    For example, the Second Amendment (the one actually beginning, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”) is listed in its entirety as “People can own guns.”

  9. Tim Hogan says:

    Erich, the ACLU in St. Louis filed a federal lawsuit in the ED-MO to stop the implementation of Amendment 2. The suit was filed on Monday, accourding to an NPR report.

  10. Jonathan says:

    Oh my God. There is a lot of stuff in that amendment, and none of it is good. It’s amazing that we allow constitutional amendment votes during primaries. That’s how they passed the NC anti-marriage amendment. My Congressman and and the Manhattan Declaration were behind it. Another politician from Loudoun County, VA was behind the Mark Clayton “Democratic” primary victory in Tenn.

    Missouri is scary. Here’s my translation of some of the text.

    neither the state nor any of its political subdivisions shall establish any official religion

    Translation: The state and its political subdivisions shall recognize the transcendent Truth of the Holy Bible, the divinely inspired Word the one True God who created the earth, was incarnated as Jesus Christ, died for your sins, was ressurrected and offers eternal life or damnation to all people.

    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.

    Translation: MCC, UUC, Quakers, UCC, reform Jews, all Muslims, Hindus, Sihks, etc, don’t make any trouble or you’ll find yourselves behaving “inconsistent with the good order”, and we can throw you in jail where this “religious liberty” constitutional amendment doesn’t apply. Would you like to convert?

  11. grumpypilgrim says:

    Hmmm…”that the right of Missouri citizens to express their religious beliefs shall not be infringed.” So, if someone’s religious beliefs includes the burning of witches or the stoning to death of children who disobey their parents, then that’s OK? What about the right of fundamentalist Mormons to have multiple underage wives? What about the Catholic-sponsored Inquisition (during the Dark Ages) that included, among other things, roasting people alive for heresy? And what if someone decides that, as a reformed Aztec, they are entitled to practice human sacrifice by carving out the still-beating hearts of non-believers? There’s a huge difference between saying the government shall not establish a religion and saying the government shall not infringe anything someone conveniently labels as “expressing their religious beliefs.”

  12. Dan Klarmann says:

    Pharyngula pokes at his issue with “Missouri screws up

    “…Not only will it affect science teaching, its proponents intend for it to cripple instruction in evolution and any other science that crosses their benighted worldview. “

  13. Dan Klarmann says:

    Phil Plait chimes in with “The most amazing contrast of the 21st century

    “While NASA and JPL put a nuclear powered laser-eyed roving chem lab on another planet, Kentucky legislators want to teach kids that the world is 6000 years old, and Missouri wants schoolchildren to be able to stick their fingers in their ears if their teachers discusses evolution.”

Leave a Reply


Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.