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Missouri bishops back proposed state prayer amendment

Catholic World News - July 23, 2012

The bishops of Missouri have endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment that will 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.”

The amendment will also ensure 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” and 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.

“The changes proposed in this amendment are consistent with Catholic Church teaching affirming individual rights of conscience and the right to immunity from coercion in matters of religious belief,” Missouri’s bishops said in a statement. “True religious freedom does not just constitute freedom to worship on Sunday, but also includes the freedom to express one’s faith publicly through acts of mercy, and through prayerful witness to matters of importance to the common good of society as a whole.”

“Increasingly, it seems, religious values are becoming marginalized in our society,” the bishops continued, adding:

People of faith need assurance that they remain free to exercise and express their religious beliefs in public, provided just order be observed, without threat of external pressure to conform to changing societal “norms.” Amendment 2 would protect the right to religious freedom while assuring that “neither the state nor any of its political subdivisions shall establish any official religion.” We encourage Missouri Catholics to carefully review Amendment 2 and vote in favor of the Amendment in August.

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