Missouri voters on Tuesday decided kids shouldn’t have to study evolution, climate change, or anything gay — in fact, anything the kids want to claim violates their religious beliefs. Oh, religious liberty!
Yes, passing a ballot initiative with 83% of voters opting that students can opt out of, well, just about anything (personally, I would have chosen gym,) that “violate his or her religious beliefs.”
The amendment to Missouri’s constitution, known as Amendment 2, is, of course, in legalese, but here’s the relevant section:
“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;”
Of course, the amendment — now law — doesn’t state how the state will determine if the subjects in question (algebra? Spanish? biology? gym?) really “violate his or her religious beliefs.” But I’m sure the honor system will work just fine.
Democrats called the constitutional amendment a “jobs bill for lawyers,” according to Fox News:
The amendment was on a statewide ballot and had widespread support, though critics said the right to pray is already protected under the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
State GOP Rep. Mike McGhee and other supporters agreed, but they said Amendment 2 is really an effort to make the state constitution match the U.S. Constitution and protect Christianity, which they said is under attack.
McGhee, whose legislation led to the amendment proposal, told FoxNews.com about an incident in which a teacher told a kindergartner singing “Jesus Loves Me” while swinging on the playground to instead sing “mommy loves me.”
McGhee thinks the teacher simply didn’t know the law and said the proposed amendment attempts to make clear such rights.
But critics said the amendment will open the door to more lawsuits.
Democratic State Rep. Chris Kelly told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the proposed amendment was “a jobs bill for lawyers.”
Critics dismissed the argument about rising hostility toward Christianity. They argued an amendment that reaffirms “the right to pray in a private or public setting” might lead to the exclusion of prayer from Muslim or Jewish religions, for example, which could triggers some of the likely suits.
Regardless, observers say the outcome of the vote likely will be challenged in federal court.
Another part of the amendment sparking controversy is a section that reads “no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs.”
Critics say schools will be forced to make perhaps an endless number of decisions on which assignments violate beliefs.
Fox adds, of course, that McGehee “didn’t foresee the amendment resulting in cases of ‘It’s against my religion to do algebra’.”
Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress notes:
The ACLU warns that giving students the power to reject any part of their academic assignments represents a “truly profound change in educational law” that will “adversely affect the quality of education in Missouri.” However, it is filing suit over yet another problematic aspect of the far-reaching law: while the amendment strengthens religious protections for students in state-funded schools and legislators on government property, it actually lessens the religious freedom of the state’s inmates, stripping prisoners of their state constitutional protections for religious expression.
States like Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and Missouri have also moved toward allowing students to pursue religiously-based education in public schools, such as creationism or intelligent design in science classes. Louisiana’s Department of Education is currently under fire for funneling state funds into religious schools with Bible-based curricula.
Bottom line: America is being taken over by right wing radical religious wing nuts who are putting their belief in their God over the rights of every other citizen. When belief legally trumps facts, science, and learning, and to the detriment of facts, science, and learning, well, that’s a theocracy.
Welcome to America.
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