The Missouri Catholic bishops are urging support for a proposed state constitutional amendment that would protect the right to pray in public places. Voters will consider Amendment 2 in the Aug. 7 primary election.
The bishops’ statement declares that freedom of religion must include more than just worship on Sunday; it “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.” The bishops also note that “religious values are becoming marginalized in our society.”
The amendment would add a new section to the state constitution’s bill of rights. In addition to affirming that every citizen has the right to acknowledge Almighty God according to the dictates of his conscience, the amendment allows ministers, clergypersons and other individuals to offer invocations or prayers at sessions of the Missouri General Assembly and before other governing bodies.
The amendment affirms the right of students to express their religious beliefs in academic assignments. Students also cannot be compelled to participate in academic assignments or projects that violate their religious beliefs. Voluntary and private prayer in public schools is also protected.
The bishops issued the statement as the Catholic Church in Missouri and throughout the nation celebrates a special period of prayer and fasting – the Fortnight for Freedom – dedicated to honoring the religious liberties enjoyed by American citizens.