By an almost 5-to-1 margin, Missouri voters on Aug. 7 inserted stronger safeguards for the right to pray into the Bill of Rights of the state constitution. Amendment 2 garnered more than 82 percent of the statewide vote. The state’s Roman Catholic bishops urged Catholics to support the amendment, which affirms every citizen’s right to acknowledge Almighty God according to the dictates of his or her 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. It also affirms the right of students to express their religious beliefs in academic assignments. Students cannot be compelled to participate in academic assignments that violate their religious beliefs. Voluntary and private prayer in public schools is also protected under the amendment.
In their statement supporting the amendment, the bishops asserted 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.”