On August 8, Missourians voted by a wide margin (83% of voters, or 780,000 people) for Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment which protects Missouri residents’ right to pray in public. Missouri’s Catholic bishops backed the amendment, issuing a statement on August 3 which said “True religious freedom does not just constitute freedom to worship on Sunday, but also includes the freedom to express one’s faith publicly.”
Under Amendment 2, elected officials are permitted to pray on government premises and public property. Studens are permitted to express their religious beliefs in schoolwork, and to exercise their religious beliefs during school hours and on school property in private, voluntary and non-disruptive ways. Students are also permitted to opt out of school requirements (sex education classes, for example) which conflict with their personal religious beliefs.Under the Amendment, public schools must display the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights in “a conspicuous and legible manner.”
Predictably, the Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Anti-Defamation League of Missouri and Southern Illinois oppose the legislation, and plan to file suit to block its implementation.