Missouri Amendment 2, help me out here.

DrB-

 

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:

http://lmfinney.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/another-embarrassment-for-missouri/

 

You can find me on twitter, @DrDavidBurger

I recruit in Kansas City, http://www.kcatheists.org/
& https://www.facebook.com/KCAtheists

  • John Eberhard

    I thought it was very nicely done, Dr.B, even though it would have been accurate to include “only people with shit for brains will vote for this absurdity”, you probably make the right choice in going for subtlety and diplomacy.

    • Lon Hardy

      I would expect this type of profane response by opponents of this proposal. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of voting for AMENDMENT 2.

      • Gina

        I want to thank Lon Hardy for the courage to reply to someone after being referred to as “shit for brains.” I have read your blog and most of these comments. Please go to http://www.PrayerAmendment.org. There you will find “Why We Need a Prayer Amendment” by Kerry Messer of the Missouri Family Network. This should answer “What’s Missouri’s “Right to pray” amendment really about?” Thank you, Lon Hardy. I have been intimidated far too long.

        • LawnBoy

          The joy of deception through omission.

          “Why We Need a Prayer Amendment” justifies the amendment on the grounds that it protects rights that already exists, but it never mentions the absolute destruction it could cause to our educational environment.

          Why do we need an Amendment that guarantees A grades for denial of science and history? It’s not stated – that’s just what we’re getting.

  • lancefinney

    For a flyer, I think this is too much text. This is possibly good for a letter to the editor, but I think you need to simplify.

    I like this pull-quote from Americans United:

    Religious freedom is already protected in Missouri, so the amendment is redundant at best and a threat to individual freedom at worst.

    I wrote a couple of blog posts on this (Part I ). If there’s anything there that you find useful, please feel free to plagiarize ;) As you can see, though, I didn’t find a good, pithy way to argue the situation, either.

    • doctorburger

      This is good, I might steal it!

      “….
      This means that Mormon students will be able to demand an A for a paper that says that Native Americans are descendants of a tribe of Israel. This means that fringe Christian students will be able to demand an A for a paper that says that the Earth is flat and the center of the Universe. This means, essentially, 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.
      …”

      • lancefinney

        Please do!

        And sorry about the double-post. I should always remember to check the preview before submitting anything with html. Oh well.

  • lancefinney

    For a flyer, I think this is too much text. This is possibly good for a letter to the editor, but I think you need to simplify.

    I like this pull-quote from Americans United:

    Religious freedom is already protected in Missouri, so the amendment is redundant at best and a threat to individual freedom at worst.

    I wrote a couple of blog posts on this (Part I and Part II ). If there’s anything there that you find useful, please feel free to plagiarize ;) As you can see, though, I didn’t find a good, pithy way to argue the situation, either.

    • doctorburger

      it’s a ton of text; i definitely agree.

      I’m just trying to come up with enough to fill a flyer, the guy doing the graphic design/flyer design just needed content.

      Your blog was really helpful, great examples!

      • Randomfactor

        Agree too much text. Rather than write more to fill a page, write less and print them two-up. You save cost AND force a more cogent message.

        As someone once said, “Sorry this is so long; I didn’t have time to write a shorter one.”

  • http://healthyhumanist.com Healthy Humanist

    This was too well written not to send to my congressman.

    • doctorburger

      Thanks, please do!

    • lancefinney

      Unfortunately, that won’t do much good. This bill was already passed by the Missouri legislature, and now it’s in the hands of the voters of Missouri.

      • http://healthyhumanist.com Healthy Humanist

        Damn. Well I sent it anyway. I’m always clamouring at their door about dumb stuff coming out of Jefferson City.

  • http://healthyhumanist.com Healthy Humanist

    And by the way Mr. John Eberhard, you fuckin’ rock.

  • Switchhttr

    Grammar police here: the impersonal pronoun you’re wanting in the first sentence is spelled “its”; the version you use (with the apostrophe) is a contraction of the phrase “it is”.

    Other than that, it’s quite good. I feel for you, grappling with the difficulty in explaining this issue is a pithy-yet-thorough way for a flyer. Perhaps the answer is two flyers?

    Also, graphics might help, such as the Calvin and Hobbes? comic strip I saw about Calvin? refusing to answer a math question on religious grounds.

  • TGAP Dad

    Being that this is Missouri (which I like to pronounce “misery”), and the chance of this going down is really low, I would go for something dramatic. I am not a graphic designer, but was a photographer in my previous life (the old-fashioned days of film, darkrooms, enlargers and chemicals) so I have a bit of design sense, as it were. The idea I like is a screen cap of the plane hitting the WTC with the big fireball erupting out of it on a plain background, with large text saying “This is what religious privilege looks like. Vote NO on 2″. Maybe one with a large picture of Daniel Pearl with the text “Ask Daniel Pearl what religious privilege looks like”. Obviously, you want to throw in some xtian examples as well: the woman who drowned her kids because Yaweh told her to; Anders Breivik, cardinal Law! You get the idea.

  • jimmiraybob

    Well, if I know anything about Missouri, and I think I do, make it simple and spooky. For instance:

    Amendment 2 is designed to raise your taxes and to open the floodgates for Sharia Law. Missourian’s religious freedoms are already constitutionally protected and our classrooms shielded from Sharia Law.

    Don’t let these radicals infiltrate our Constitution with needless, expensive and dangerous amendments that will increase our taxes and open the floodgates for Sharia Law. Protect our hard earned money and our children and our constitution for a better and safer tomorrow.

    –Paid for by Patriots for Tomorrow

    Already I think that I may have gotten too verbose – maybe enough there for two pamphlets. Probably best for distribution the week before the election.

    As has been said, what you’ve written would be good for letters to editors, especially in the KC, Columbia and STL markets plus the other University towns.

    Another tactic might be to offer free vouchers for KC BBQ. I digress for selfish purposes.

    • doctorburger

      also gay muslims will steal your guns!

  • Coragyps

    jimmiraybob – I love it, but you need a couple more mentions of Sharia Law in there. :-)

  • cag

    You may wish to spell check guranteed.

  • Krisko

    I agree with some of the people up above, very tl;dr for a flyer.

    Also, considering somewhere around half the country (and probably slightly higher in Missouri) doesn’t think YEC is too far-fetched, using it as your standard for lunacy is an issue. Use Islam as an example, Christians are scared of that. Or even mandated atheism. That’ll scare them shitless.

  • Gwynnyd

    You might try a scarier headline, too.

    The “right to pray” for Allah? or “Amendment 2 means Missouri teachers bowing down to Allah.” or something even scarier.

    Remember that most of the people voting for this amendment WANT to be able to “stick it to the liberals” by keeping education Biblical. They will not have thought about the ramifications, so it’s the most outrageous of the ramifications you should highlight.

  • MartyM

    The christian persecution complex is strong in Missouri. I think is passed unanimously in the state legislature so it’ll pass state wide no doubt. The only hope is someone will challenge the first part and maybe it will go the way of the anti-sharia amendment in Oklahoma.

  • Mark

    Include the text of the bill as you have, but the slippery-slope style commentary gets a bit preachy.

  • Persephone

    I’m from Missouri. It’s a lost cause. This amendment will pass by a landslide.

  • http://anthrozine.com Cubist

    Try this on for size: “If your elected officials open a meeting with a prayer, the only way they can avoid getting nailed with a First Amendment lawsuit they *cannot* win is if they let *all* religious faiths take turns. *All* religious faiths, including pagans, voodoo, and Islam. So if this thing passes, pick your poison: Either your government goes bankrupt from losing open-and-shut First Amendment lawsuits, or your General Assembly faces Mecca as it prays to Allah.”

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Are you sure there isn’t some fine print in there putting tax money into church pockets? That’s usually the core goal…

  • jimmiraybob

    Please don’t take my comments to mean that I too think it’s a hopeless cause. My comment is more an argument for targeting the message to the audience. For the segment of the population that will be voting based on religion and reactionary fear, I wouldn’t go with the longer more complicated arguments.

  • lancefinney

    FYI,

    Americans United have created three flyers. Perhaps you could use theirs:
    Unnecessary costs
    School effects
    Constitutional issues

    They also have a good article about it in the July/August issue of their “Church & State” newsletter, but I can’t find it online.

  • GBT

    Amendment 2 considerations completely aside for the moment, you need to retract your statement that Missouri’s August 7 primary is unnecessary. It IS necessary, to nominate candidates for numerous down-ballot positions, such as U.S. Senator, U.S representative, governor and other statewide offices, state reps and senators, circuit judges, county commissioner, sheriff, etc.

    There are NO presidential candidates on Missouri’s August 7 ballot. Presidential nominations in Missouri were taken care of in the presidential preference primary election in February and in party caucuses.

    Please take the time to get the facts straight before expressing an opinion.

  • The Rev. Jason Samuel

    I will definitely NOT be supporting this misleading ammendment. It is bad for religious freedom and will cause chaos in the classroom and courtroom litigation that will end up having the taxpayers of Missouri paying for it. This ammendment is sneaky and the people trying to pass it are hoping the voters will not pay attention to the entire ammendment wording.

    As a Christian and as a Clergyman I will do I can to speak out against this and pray that Missourians will pay attention and use common sense. Our freedom and protection of religion is already in our constitution.

    The Rev. Jason Samuel

    • Gina

      I support this ammendment and am a Christian. Everyone I know that is promoting the support of this amendment is also handing out the ENTIRE AMENDMENT WORDING. There is no deception here.

  • Pingback: ‘A’ for Effortless: What’s Wrong with MO ‘Right to Pray’ Amendment » Eggheaded


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