Missouri holds its primary elections August 7th. They’re somewhat unnecessary at this point, as Romney has the GOP nomination, and Obama has the DNC. But, we have them at tax payer expense. Whatever.
There’s a constitutional amendment on the ballot as well, and I plan to do a bit of organization trying to oppose its passage. I’m trying to come up with some text for a flyer, and I’d like your criticism on it.
Act as though you’re an undecided voter, a voter who has not heard of this amendment, or someone who maybe has heard about it, and are somewhat in loosely in favor just on the rough “general idea” of it.
It’s being called the “Right to Pray” amendment, so I’m realistic enough to see it’s got about a “100%” chance of passing.
Anyway, here’s the text I came up with, and I’d appreciate any feedback:
What’s Missouri’s “Right to pray” amendment really about?
On August 7 Missouri will hold its primary election. In addition to the candidates running for office, there is a constitutional amendment issue.
On the ballot, this is named “Constitutional Amendment 2.” The shortened “fair ballot” text seems straightforward, and just reiterates the constitutional rights already guaranteed all US citizens from the 1st amendment in the Bill of Rights.
What’s not presented is the full text, which contains the actual changes to current law.
There are two relevant changes, which any Missouri citizen should oppose for two different reasons.
The first change full text reads like this:
“…that the General Assembly and the governing bodies of political subdivisions may extend to
ministers, clergy persons, and other individuals the privilege to offer invocations
or other prayers at meetings or sessions of the General Assembly or governing bodies..”
What seems like an innocent change, will actually end up costing hefty amount of taxpayer money. Sectarian prayer of any variety to open an official government function violates the US constitution, and this clause opens Missouri to lawsuits that it can’t win. Without exception, every time a government body opens its meetings with a religious prayer of any denomination, the inevitable result is a lawsuit that ends up before a federal judge. Every time, without exception, the federal judge rules against the government endorsement of religion via the prayer, and the taxpayer foots the legal bill.
Adding this clause to the Missouri constitution does not in any way override the US constitution, and will result in an expensive set of needless court costs.
The second change full text reads like this:
“…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..”
Again, the second change seems innocent enough. Students can already pray in school and express their religious belief.
The danger of this language is that any student can now declare that a topic violates their religious views, and they get exempted from the learning process. America is already lagging well behind other countries in math and science student achievement. Strong education standards challenge students with new ideas, we can’t afford a generation of students that simply declare a religious belief based exemption to anything they don’t want to learn.
- Should Mormon students be able to demand an A for a paper that says that Native Americans are descendants of a tribe of Israel?
- Should fringe Christian students be able to demand an A claiming that the Earth is flat and the center of the Universe?
- Should Hare Krishna students get to insist on equal time in history when they deny the moon landing because that’s a tenet of their religion?
Passing this amendment would mean that any teacher of science or history has to be ready to endorse as equally valid any notion that a student claims is core to her religion. How much of geology, paleontology, biology, and history can Young Earth Creationists insist on being ignorant about? Willful rejection of scientifically discovered reality shouldn’t get official endorsement.
Employers in science and technology are already focusing their recruiting efforts on overseas immigrants who did get a well-rounded background in the hard sciences. The future of America as a leader in research and development hinges on our raising students well-rounded in all areas, not just non-controversial ones. When students leave the classroom, real world employers don’t offer an exemption because of personal feelings.
Missouri can’t afford these falsely innocent changes. The future taxpayer cost isn’t worth it, and our students need every advantage they can get.
On August 7, Vote NO on Missouri Amendment 2.
(full bill text here: http://house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills111/billpdf/perf/HJR0002P.PDF)
/EDIT 1 -> added a few sections on the students part from here:
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