Earlier this week, Missouri’s Amendment 2 ballot measure — dubbed the “right to pray” amendment — passed the state legislature with 83 percent of the vote. The amendment’s backers claim it puts important protections in place for Missouri’s Christians, who they say are often “public targets” despite the fact that Christians currently represent 80 percent of the state’s population.
The ballot language said the amendment will ensure religious liberty by allowing Missouri school children to express their beliefs openly in school and permitting state-funded schools to publicly display the Bill of Rights, both expressions that are already protected. In advance of the vote, the American Civil Liberties Union called the summary on the ballot “misleading because all people in Missouri currently enjoy very robust protections of their religious liberties” under both the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution.
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.