Missouri Votes on 'Right to Pray' Amendment Tuesday

Voters in Missouri will take to the polls on Tuesday to vote on an amendment that would safeguard the rights of those who wish to pray in public.

The amendment, known as "Right to Pray," was introduced by Missouri Representative Michael McGhee in 2010 and passed the State Senate in May of 2011. The legislation is aimed at protecting an individual's right to practice their respective faith in public without fear of repercussions.

Should the amendment pass, it would allow for voluntary prayer on public property, as long as the prayers were not disruptive and did not mandate students to pray in public schools. The law would also require public schools to display a copy of the Bill of Rights on school grounds.

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"The proposed amendment makes certain or safeguards the right to freedom of religious expression by setting forth specific ways to avoid infringing upon this right," according to the opinion issued by the court allowing the amendment to be put to a vote.

"By stating that the proposed amendment would ensure the right of Missouri citizens to express their religious beliefs without infringement, the summary statement fairly and impartially summarizes this purpose," the opinion stated.

The proposed amendment has already survived several lawsuits from opponents who say that the new amendment is redundant and would lead to further frivolous lawsuits related to religious freedom.

However, the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that it is not a hindrance to legislation already in place, but in fact the amendment would elaborate and support current interpretation of existing laws while protecting religious freedom provided by the Constitution.

"[Legislation] elaborates on its meaning with regard to prayer and the expression of religious beliefs in private and public settings, on government and public property, and in schools," read the decision from the Missouri Court of Appeals.

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