Another setback for secularism in America

I’m from Missouri (show me!), and so am especially disturbed at the latest doings in my natal state.  On Tuesday, by a 5-1 margin, voters approved a “right to pray” amendment to the state Constitution that guarantees what the residents already have, but adds a couple of nefarious provisions.  Missouri’s Constitutional Amendment 2, voted in by a 779,628  to 162,404 margin, reads in part (download the full text here):

Section 5. That all men and women have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; that no human authority can control or interfere with the rights of conscience; that no person shall, on account of his or herreligious persuasion or belief, be rendered ineligible to any public office or trust or profit in this state, be disqualified from testifying or serving as a juror, or be molested in his or her person or estate; that to secure a citizen’s right to acknowledge Almighty God according to the dictates of his or her own conscience, neither the state nor any of its political subdivisions shall establish any official religion, nor shall a citizen’s right to pray or express his or her religious beliefs be infringed; . . .

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure:

  • That the right of Missouri citizens to express their religious beliefs shall not be infringed;
  • That school children have the right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools; and
  • That all public schools shall display the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.

And here’s the bad part: the amendment also guarantees

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 is, students aren’t compelled to learn about or write about evolution, the Big Bang, or even things like medicine if they contravene what a student has been brainwashed to believe.

As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:

Any immediate impact of the amendment, which takes effect in 30 days, is still unclear. The new amendment broadly expands the protections in the state’s constitution by adding new sections on religious issues. In addition to protecting voluntary prayer in school, the amendment:

• Ensures the right to pray, individually or in groups, in private or public places, as long as the prayer does not disturb the peace or disrupt a meeting.

• Prohibits the state from coercing religious activity.

• Protects the right to pray on government property.

• Protects the right of legislative bodies to sponsor prayers and invocations.

• Says students need not take part in assignments or presentations that violate their religious beliefs.

That last provision may soon become the subject of litigation, some critics warned. They said it could lead to students skipping science classes or assignments when they disagree with teaching about the origins of man.

Supporters said those fears were overblown.

Overblown?  The state constitution makes it legal for students to miss classes on evolution.  If that’s not bait for a lawsuit, I don’t know what is.  Better to litigate now than wait for the students to start boycotting their biology classes.  “Freedom of religion” is not the same as freedom to refuse, in public schools, exposure to truths about the world that happen to contradict iron-age myths.  That last provision is, I believe, aimed specifically at evolution. In what other area of instruction are students’ religious beliefs “violated”?

An editorial in Tuesday’s New York Times, written before the amendment passed, warns of further dangers:
But the amendment is unnecessary because the state and federal constitutions and court rulings already guarantee these rights. It would, instead, create confusion and wreak havoc in classrooms by giving students the right to refuse to read anything or do any assignments that they claim offends their religious views. . .

Another change could lead to litigation about where nonsectarian, constitutional invocations cross the line into sectarian, unconstitutional prayers; instead of seeking the Almighty’s blessing, for example, officials at public events could ask for Jesus’s blessing.

The wording would further encourage “the General Assembly and the governing bodies of political subdivisions” to invite ministers and others “to offer invocations or other prayers” at public sessions.

Amendment 2 springs from the view that religious freedom is vulnerable unless the Missouri Constitution is revised. But the Missouri Supreme Court has already said that the protection of religious freedom by the State Constitution is more “explicit” than what the First Amendment provides and its protection against government establishment of religion more “restrictive.”

If Missourians amend their Constitution, they will erode rather than enhance their religious freedom.

If this isn’t challenged in the courts, expect a spate of similar legislation in benighted states, and a new crop of kids who will emerge from school ignorant of their origins and those of every other species. Equating refusal to learn important scientific truths with religious freedom is a devilishly clever strategy, but won’t fly—unless it goes to the hyperconservative U.S. Supreme Court, which has yet to rule on issues like this.

h/t: Eliot

100 Comments

  1. E. Ysaye
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    That last provision is, I believe, aimed specifically at evolution. In what other area of instruction are students’ religious beliefs “violated”?

    • veroxitatis
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:18 am | Permalink

      There must be a few geocentrists around.

    • Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      On a slightly more serious/worrisome note, there actually is a section of mathematics that apparently offends some fundamentalist religious types: set theory. No, really. http://boingboing.net/2012/08/07/what-do-christian-fundamentali.html

      • gluonspring
        Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink

        That article is a very good analysis of why. These things can seem baffling from the outside, but they have a perverse logic.

        • Stonyground
          Posted August 9, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

          I’ve just read the linked post, my mind is now truly boggled.

      • bernardhurley
        Posted August 9, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

        According to the article:

        Basically, this perspective looks at set theory and Georg Cantor and sees humankind trying to replace the divine with numbers and philosophy.

        This would have surprised Cantor as he was actually a very religious man and thought that transfinite arithmetic was evidence for the existence of God. He coresponed with the mathematician Philip Jourdain about this and wrote a book about it which, however, he did not manage to get published.

        Whatever Cantor’s motives for inventing transfinite set theory were, he was definitely not trying to replace the divine with numbers and philosophy. But I guess, if you’re a fundamentalist, you can’t let a few facts ruin your arguments.

    • Desnes Diev
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      If something may “violate” religious beliefs, it is the idea that the brain itself generates consciousness (no more soul). I think this fact may one day relegate evolution to second place in the priorities of fundies.

      There is a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience planned in October in New Orleans. It is maybe the last in this city since Louisiana could follow Missouri in the path to religious “freedom”.

      Desnes Diev

    • gluonspring
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      While evolution is probably the target I can think of other things. The status of homosexuality, for example. My religious conservative friends’ chief worry with gay marriage isn’t that gays will get married, though of course that doesn’t make them happy, but that that legitimacy will be reflected in the schools and that schools will teach their children that it is OK to be gay even as they are trying to teach them that it is a mortal sin. They are similarly, but less so, freaked out by the idea that schools might somewhere insinuate that having sex outside of marriage is OK. Consider that many oppose HPV vaccination solely on those grounds, lives saved , including potentially their own child’s, be damned.

    • ManOutOfTime
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      I remember in my HS “civics” class looking at the church-state issues in religious parents praying their sick kids back to health, or, as a sane person might call it, “denying them treatment” or “letting them die.”

      I can imagine a Christian Science person might take (or at least feign) offense at the very debate. Back in those crazy 70’s they might have been encouraged to “express their opinion,” and maybe the letter of this law would be to cut them the space to do it. But I can also see that a teacher might self-censor to avoid the hassle.

  2. Twiggy120
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    I imagine some of these politicians and lawyers and those who write and push these laws look upon Iran and Afghanistan with jealousy.

  3. Posted August 9, 2012 at 4:57 am | Permalink

    “The law will come forward from one place … from Missouri, and the other will be in Jerusalem.” — Willard Romney

    • Hempenstein
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:13 am | Permalink

      The Bishop said that? I’m shocked, shocked!

  4. Claimthehighground
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    What a can of worms. Does this mean an orthodox Jewish student can kick up a fuss if he/she hears prayers to Jesus. Muslim kids will need time outs for the periodic Mecca prayer. And since Buddists don’t acknowledge an “Almighty God”, are they just left out? Can wiccans participate? Big win for lawyers. Show me, indeed! How about show me some evidence before you write silly laws.

    • Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      Claimthehighground – Exactly right. It is crazy that Christian radicals do not understand what’s in the can of worms they have opened. Eventually, all provisions that violate the federal constitution will be rescinded, but it will take time.

      • RWO
        Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

        One hopes you are correct. However, should Mitt Romney have the opportunity to nominate a fundavangelical to the the Supreme Court, the Constitution of the USA could be altered to a theocracy with just a few key rulings, and challenges to this Missouri statute may afford that opportunity. I hope I am crazy, and that this is too long a shot to ever occur, but given a potential Romney win, a potential sudden vacancy on the Court due to illness or death, + enough Senate seats to confirm …

    • RF
      Posted August 11, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Also, does this mean that polygamy is now legal in Missouri?

  5. marksolock
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  6. MNb
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    It violates my religious convictions that pi equals 3,1415 iso 3,0 (1 Kings 7:23 and 2 Chro 4:2). May my kids now skip tons of math classes?

    • Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:38 am | Permalink

      No.
      They will have to follow different math classes.
      Or rather ‘different math’ classes.

      • Cliff Melick
        Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

        As in “What’s a cubit?”

        • Ken Pidcock
          Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

          Pop reference of the day.

        • Posted August 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

          A small cube?

          /@

    • Claimthehighground
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      No, they’ll just “teach the controversy”

  7. Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    “students may express their beliefs about religion in written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their work”

    It always amazes me when students mention their religious beliefs during a discussion of a topic that has nothing to do with religion. In my English classes, the safest reply, although I don’t always take the safest route, is to ask students to stay on topic.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink

      A student expressing a religious point of view is only legit in an English lit class when discussing works into which religion impinges such as “the Scarlet Letter” and more marginally in history classes when stuff like Mormonism comes up.

      • Notagod
        Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:46 am | Permalink

        That’s not in the law. The law has no exceptions for when it doesn’t apply. The student’s religious statements need to be allowed not matter the subject under discussion. The law doesn’t state that the religious statements need to be on topic in any way.

    • eric
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:27 am | Permalink

      A relatively minor impact may be that lower-level English classes will have to come up with an alternate to the minimum-word-count essay. After all, you can’t give students a 500-word essay as homeword if the state says writing “Praise Jesus, praise Jesus” 250 times is acceptable.

      • The Stolen Dormouse
        Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:23 am | Permalink

        Teachers will have to analyze the information content (by Claude Shannon’s formulas) as well as the number of words. Writing “Praise Jesus” 250 times has much less information content than a well–even if wrongly –argued esaay that brings in religious ideas inappropriately.

        • bernardhurley
          Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

          As usual the Roman Catholics have an answer. They can spin out rubbish for ever:

          Blessed be God.
          Blessed be his holy name.
          Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
          Blessed be the name of Jesus.
          Blessed be his most Sacred Heart.
          Blessed be his most Precious Blood.
          Blessed be Jesus in the most holy sacrament of the altar.
          ….
          etc. etc.

          500 words should be no problem.

  8. Alexander Hellemans
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    What beats me is that these people treat god as a “legal person,” just like the blasphemy laws in Ireland–insulting god is against the law. Don’t you need a law stating that god is a legal person? Do such laws exist, at least in the Christian world? You can insult a cow and that is OK because a cow is not a legal person.

    • Sigmund
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:43 am | Permalink

      The Irish blasphemy law doesn’t specifically mention God. It’s primarily concerned with “sacred beliefs” (which I suppose could include God too but would include all manner of other things – like, for instance, holy objects or clerics) It is particularly worrying because the severity of the offense is entirely subjective, and depends on the reaction of the religious followers in question – “to hell with Jesus” – no offense. To hell with Mohammed – guilty!
      The law states:
      “he or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion”

  9. aristc
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Time to start a new religion, one that maintains that health care should be free to everybody, taxes raised on the rich, abortions should be free on demand, Evolution is the only acceptable biological doctrine and everything else is heresy, prayer equals blasphemy, religiously inspired headgear should be mocked, etc. God Almighty dictates all that and more to his holy prophet, myself. So I say unto you, join my religion, no purchase required.

  10. Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    I would like to know what the difference between Almighty God and God is. Is AG the older brother? If someone wants to worship plain ol’ God, why are their rights being infringed in favor of his older brother? What a bully.

  11. Steve
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    sub

  12. Sameer
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    The amendment doesn’t quite say it but I suspect that the only kind of god Missourians approve of would be the Christian kind. I wonder what their reaction would be if a group of Muslims routinely start praying in some public space or some Wiccans start having their rituals in some high school.

    I think mockery and satire is a good way to counter this idiocy. It will bring to light the thinly veiled bigotry behind all this. I hope some Pastafarians take up this cause and start praying to FSM in some schools in Missouri.

    • Alexander Hellemans
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      I agree. Dario Fo, who is a Nobel laureate for literature, did wonders getting Italian society out of the clutches of the Vatican by ridiculing the Pope (and his Popemobile).

    • Sigmund
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      Indeed, or someone begins a new religion that forbids algebra, organic chemistry and corect speling!
      How would the school cope with that other than by discriminating against this religion.

      • Sameer
        Posted August 9, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        If there are any Pythagoreans around, they probably dislike irrational numbers, negative numbers and complex numbers etc. There goes most of your mathematics and almost everything else in science too.

        • bernardhurley
          Posted August 9, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink

          Indeed, there are no criteria for what could be a matter of religious belief.

  13. Darth Dog
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Clearly evolution, and possibly cosmology was the target for the people who wrote the ammendment. But the wording “according to the dictates of his or her own conscience” seems dangerous. Can’t any student who doesn’t like any subject just claim that it is against their religion? Don’t like geometry? Hey, I don’t believe in the Pythagorean theorem.

    Seriously. What is to stop any student, at any time, from claiming that they can skip any class or any assignment on religious grounds?

    • bernardhurley
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      Education itself is against many people’s religion.

      • ManOutOfTime
        Posted August 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        Exactly. Yet they will cry foul when their kids can’t qualify to get into out-of-state universities,

    • Claimthehighground
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      What if a student’s conscience dictates that there is no God, Almighty or otherwise? Will this fit under the precepts of the new law?

  14. eric
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Better to litigate now than wait for the students to start boycotting their biology classes.

    Missouri requires 3 credits in science for graduation, and has a couple of different waiver programs that allow schools to graduate people who don’t meet the credit-based requirements (if you want to go through the effort).

    So let’s get real here; I doubt anyone is thinking that this law will give them a new righ to skip biology, because the students could already do that if they wanted to. Take earth science, chem, and physics, for example. Get a waiver. Sign up for a 2-credit AP physics course.

    No, what these parents and kids want is to get A’s and credit for taking Biology without doing the work or learning the material. They want Biology to appear on their kids’ transcript without having to learn evolution.

    I hope the state education system (and courts) will recognize that this does nothing except lower/damage the credibility of Missouri HS diplomas and transcripts. It won’t give students an ability to avoid a subject they find religiously objectionable – because students already had that ability. It merely gives them the ability to put something on their transcript which they haven’t learned. And no University is going to be fooled about that, at least not for long. The response will be inevitable; Missouri students will suffer in terms of competition with other students for admissions to the nation’s top Universities.

    • Brian Breczinski
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      Sadly, that probably won’t bother the people who wrote and approved this law.

  15. Kevin
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    And this is the tip of the arrow straight through the heart of the United State’s position as the predominant science and technology force in the world.

    We’ve become a second class nation, with first class weaponry.

    Start learning Mandarin.

  16. Jerome Haltom
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    I can’t wait until a Muslim student refuses to listen to a US history class because the idea of the Bill of Rights is against his religious beliefs.

    • Jerome Haltom
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      Or, any law that isn’t Shariah is invalid by his beliefs.

  17. MAUCH
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Where was this law when I needed it. I could have refused to take biochemistry because it violates my religous beliefs.

  18. Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    This crazy legislation cannot possibly survive in the courts, even the Supreme Court. Let’s get on with the process. It won’t be the last time the courts have to protect the Constitution from radical religion.

  19. Brendan
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    In true biblical style, the amendment even contridicts itself:

    • Prohibits the state from coercing religious activity.

    • Protects the right of legislative bodies to sponsor prayers and invocations.

    Sponsorship prayers and invocations is coercing religious activity.

    • Nilou Ataie
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that will become clear once someone invites Imam Hameed to lead the prayer. Get ready for some Olympic quality backpedaling.

  20. jeffery
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Who gets to decide who “Almighty God” is? What if I say I believe in a “God”, but that my God ISN’T almighty? Of course, this is all about evolution, although a little more “boiler-plate” repetition of rights we already have is “icing on the cake”.
    Once a belief system is truly adopted by an individual, they will invariably go on to base their actions upon it; this is a characteristic of true “belief” that most people are not aware of, thinking that beliefs are like computer icons, to be called up when needed. The sadness of the fundamentalists’ resistance to evolutionary theory (and thus most of science and the scientific method) is rooted in the fear that, were one part of the Babble be proven to be false (Genesis) that any other part is in jeopardy, too (Christ’s miracles: as one apologist put it, “Without the resurrection, there IS no Christianity.”).
    The growing absolutism, polarization and hardening of religious “stances” is extremely disturbing: it starts out with a cry against “intolerance” on the part of others who do not share one’s beliefs, and always ends up in trying to force one’s beliefs on others or delegitimize theirs, either officially or unofficially. The most extreme manifestation of this phenomenon is Islam’s repeated attempts to create laws in the West against “Blasphemy”, where to even criticize a belief system is subject to penalty- you can guarantee that, were it not for the First Amendment, such laws would be making their way through our State legislatures as we speak.
    “Ignorance has always had, and always will have, an ‘unfair’ advantage over knowledge: knowledge must be proven, preserved, guarded, and accurately passed on to the next generation; ignorance, on the other hand, requires no such effort. In fact, the less effort you make to learn the truth, the more ignorant you become!”

    • Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      What if I say I believe in a “God”, but that my God ISN’T almighty?

      You mean one of those crap gods, like Jeff, the god of biscuits?

  21. Posted August 9, 2012 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    That’s disturbing. I can already see folks down ’round here in the Bayou getting ideas…

  22. morkindie
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    When will the Marathon Satanic Pray-in at the state house begin?

    They will be incapable of stopping us!

  23. Posted August 9, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    So, do any of you remember Emily Brooker? She’s the graduate student who sued Missouri State University, claiming she was retaliated against because she refused to support gay adoption as part of a class project. Professor Frank G. Kauffman accused her of violating the school’s Standards of Essential Functioning in Social Work Education after he assigned a project that required the entire class to write and each sign a letter to the Missouri Legislature in support of gay adoption. This was a “level 3″ grievance” and threatened her graduation.

    Brooker said her Christian beliefs required her to refuse to sign the letter. Brooker was told by faculty that she would have to “lessen the gap” between her personal beliefs and professional obligations to the national ethics code if she wanted to graduate as a social worker.

    An evaluation of the SMU Social Work program by an external team of reviewers revealed a program that was openly hostile to people of faith (particularly conservative Christians), professors who bullied students their students into going along with their beliefs, and bias against students based on their religious beliefs.

    Amendment 2 guarantees (hopefully) that this kind of event cannot happen again. Evidently 83% of Missourians who voted for its passage agree.

    • Ken Pidcock
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      Fair enough, but do you need to amend a state constitution in response to every abuse by an academic department?

    • truthspeaker
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Except that’s not exactly what happened. She wasn’t disciplined for refusing to write the letter, and that assignment was abandoned by the professor.

  24. matunos
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Students who disagree with this new law should demonstrate its ludicrousness by simply refusing to participate in arbitrary assignments, claiming they violate their religion. I siggest something to do with the FSM.

  25. Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    “Students need not take part in assignments or presentations that violate their religious beliefs.”

    I’m curious – how do you even defeat this in court? It’s not like this is abridging liberty; rather, it gives one liberty too many. The only other law that this law violates (as far as I can tell) is the one that says kids have to go to school and learn stuff.

    Right?

    • truthspeaker
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      They are defending the right to go to school but not learn anything. Book larnin’ is of the devil.

    • RF
      Posted August 11, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      If schools give students bad grades for not doing assignments, and the students never sue, then in practice it will be as if this amendment doesn’t exist. If they do sue the school, then the school can challenge the amendment.

      • Posted August 12, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        But what do they challenge based on? What law do they use to fight this one?

  26. suwise3
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    They should stop this piecemeal stuff and just cut to the chase- we have MORE RIGHTS than anyone else and if that doesn’t work we still have MORE GUNS.

  27. Posted August 9, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    My question then is what the school’s policy is on grading these classes. Do they get a pass? Or do they lose points for this BS (as they should) and then likely not graduate? Wouldn’t this then affect the number of High School graduates that refused to take part in their education due to their religious convictions, then viewed the failing grade as religious persecution leading them to dismiss school altogether and enter the workforce as a High School drop-out? I mean, their chances are bad enough as it is!

  28. Stonyground
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    This has to be one of the most stupid things that I have ever heard. It is as if these people actually know that their religious beliefs are total bollocks, but presumably think that the threat from the spread of atheism justifies any measure, up to and including preventing kids from becoming properly educated.

    What kind of truth is it that requires people being shielded from reality lest they stop believing it?

    As for descending into theocracy, presumably these idiots think that a nice Christian theocracy will be some kind of utopia, nothing like those nasty Islamic theocracies over there. Think again guys, take a look at European history and see what a Christian theocracy looks like. Of course, instead of educating yourselves you could just go ahead and find out the hard way.

    • Posted August 10, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      Wow. From the simple right of a 6th grader to pray over his lunch to a Christian theocracy ruling with an iron fist … you’ve made a real leap there.

      • Posted August 10, 2012 at 7:11 am | Permalink

        Oh, no, he hasn’t. I suggest you google “Seven Mountains” for starters. Just for starters. It goes too far beyond that to list more, here.

        • Posted August 10, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

          I’m unfamiliar with the group and don’t have the time to closely examine them today. However, I quickly looked at their website and found this opening statement:

          “The 7 mountains initiative is not an initiative to establish dominion over all the earth or in governments. It is an initiative that seeks to love and serve all people on the earth. As followers of Christ, we believe we are called to love all people, regardless of faith, lifestyle or gender orientation. God loves all people. He provides guidelines for living as found in the Holy Scriptures and we support those guidelines as a people called to love and obey His calling upon our lives. Jesus invites all people into this destiny, but not all will come. We are called to model what Christ taught when He prayed that what was in heaven would be manifested on earth through a people known for their love of one another and others. That means His love and grace would be extended to all people.”

          This doesn’t sound like an attempt to create a theocracy to me. It does sound like a group of people who want to influence their culture and society according to their beliefs. This is wrong how?

          Are you implying that U.S. citizens who are of a conservative religious persuasion don’t have the right to influence their culture?

          Let’s do some “supposing” here … Suppose that 83% of Missourians just approved a state constitutional amendment allowing gay marriage. Would you be trumpeting Missourians as an insightful citizenry? Probably so. Instead, 83% of Missourians approved an amendment that guarantees their right to express their faith in the public square and you think they’re political neophytes who are clueless about the finer points of constitutional rights.

          I love the intolerance of the tolerant.

          • Posted August 10, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

            It is not a “group.” It is the goal of Christian “Dominionist” extremists. You can choose to ignore all other websites and the rest of that one you found. You can choose to be ignorant. Sticking your head in the sand doesn’t change reality.

            • Posted August 10, 2012 at 8:49 am | Permalink

              I’m not sticking my head in the sand at all. I was directed to the Seven Mountain website and find it pretty benign.

              I’m fully aware of “Christian Dominionists” and disagree with their position. They represent an extremely small fringe group of the Christian community. I run in pretty conservative circles and no one I know advocates a return to stoning adulterers to death.

              My point is that secularists seem to go nuts when the Christian community–particularly conservative Christians–seek to influence their culture, but it’s perfectly permissible for the secularist to do so. You don’t see the hypocrisy in this?

              • Posted August 10, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

                Go back and read, again, so you can correct yourself. I didn’t send you to any one specific site.

      • RF
        Posted August 11, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        6th graders already have the right to pray over their lunches, so obviously the goal is something else. You are yet another example of the dishonesty of Christian apologists.

  29. Posted August 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Sarvodaya and commented:
    This may be the start of a disturbing trend across other states.

  30. Jonathan Hartley
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    “that students may express their beliefs about religion in written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their work”

    So it appears that a student whose work on evolution is based on science has it marked on the basis of their understanding of the subject but a student whose response is ‘God did it’ must not be marked down because to do so would be religious discrimination. Why does Missouri even bother with schools, why not hand the education system over to the priests?

    Sorry US rationalists, we should never have allowed our religious fundamentalists to set sail to the New World, they’re taking you back to the European Dark Ages.

    • bernardhurley
      Posted August 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      As the saying goes the Australians got the convicts and the Americans got the puritans. Which would we rather we had back?

      • John Scarborough
        Posted August 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        I am a direct descendant of a convict.
        He was transported to Van Diemens land for highway robbery.

    • 3cat
      Posted August 14, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      I won’t discriminate on the basis of the religious content in a science-based assignment. I will discriminate on the absence of scientific content.

  31. Ryan
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Missouri’s got it tough, but it would be hard to outgun Louisiana right now. They’re using education reform to give public funds to charter and voucher schools that are run by religious organizations. Here’s a link to a voucher school run by the Light City Church School of the Prophets.

    http://cenlamar.com/2012/08/07/shocking-bobby-jindals-vouchers-will-provide-over-600000-per-year-to-school-led-by-prophet-apostle/

  32. Posted August 9, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    “Protects the right of legislative bodies to sponsor prayers and invocations” — WTF?????? Since when do legislative bodies have the RIGHT, the legal right!, to sponsor prayers and invocations? Sure looks like government-sponsored religion to me! Just because it’s been done and gotten away with, sure doesn’t make it right!

    • Posted August 10, 2012 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      I suppose if the Supreme Court can find in the Constitution the “right” to kill babies in the womb and the “right” to sodomize, then we’re just finding more “rights” for another group of citizens.

      • Posted August 10, 2012 at 7:22 am | Permalink

        “… find in the Constitution the ‘right’ to kill babies in the womb and the ‘right’ to sodomize…”

        You imply that: (1) no one ever extrapolated a concept from the bible but merely took it exactly as written, word for word, in which case we should switch to the Christian version of Sharia instead of Constitutional law, and that (2) individuals have no privacy rights regarding their bodies, how and whether they choose to share them. From your position, pregnancy resulting from rape should be punished by marriage between victim and rapist. How “Christian” of you. And if the rapist including forcible sodomy in his attack, what would be your treatment of him, then?

        • Posted August 10, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

          You miss my point–which was to be sarcastic.

          You said: “Since when do legislative bodies have the RIGHT, the legal right!, to sponsor prayers and invocations?”

          If the Supreme Court can find a constitutional “right” to privacy that then guarantees the right to abortion and the right to sodomy, then hey, why can’t Missouri voters find a “right” to pray in the public square?

          • Posted August 10, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

            And you seem to have missed the entire point, especially since you quoted it and then misrepresented it. The key here is “legislative body” as in, the government. Nobody is saying that individual citizens do not have the right to pray in the public square, but when the state is actually endorsing and invoking such prayer, then we are breaching the seperation between church and state. Would you agree with this if the invokation was to praise Allah, or to prey to the four winds, or to perform a wiccan rite?

            • Posted August 10, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

              Actually, we live in an era where there are many who have told Christians they don’t have the right to express their faith in the public square. Call or write Rep. Mike McGhee, R-Odessa (who sponsored the bill). He can give you numerous examples where a person’s right to express his or her faith in public was denied or forbidden.

              The amendment just approved by 779,628 Missourians expressly prohibits government establishing a religion. It does permit individuals or groups of individuals, such as a city council, to open their meeting with prayer if they so choose. Granting permission to do something is not the same as demanding that something be done.

              If our local county commissioners wanted a local Rabbi or Imam to open their meeting with prayer, I would have no issue with that. This amendment does not protect only “Christian” prayer. It protects public prayer and public expression of faith regardless of the faith.

              What specific wording in the amendment breaches the seperation of church and state?

              • Posted August 10, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

                First, define “public square”, “express their faith”, and “right.” Then, provide at least one legitimate example to back up your vague statement. Such vagary is the sign of propaganda. You cannot expect to be read, here, if you will not present your case clearly.

              • Gary W
                Posted August 10, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

                It does permit individuals or groups of individuals, such as a city council, to open their meeting with prayer if they so choose.

                The Supreme Court has ruled that prayers offered as part of legislative business are unconstitutional if they sectarian (i.e., if they advance a particular religion or set of religions). The Fourth Circuit Court of appeals has held that this ruling applies to prayers used to open legislative meetings.

                Other aspects of the Missouri amendment described above are also likely to be unconstitutional under established precedent.

          • Posted August 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

            “Public Square” — Do you mean “out in public” or on government property? Either way, individuals always had the right to individual communications between themselves and their imaginary friends, no matter which religion. Pray to “Mother Mary”, if you like. Just don’t have government employees on government property and/or in uniform and/or in any other wise representing government performing official — or what might appear to be official — government prayer, anywhere, anytime, any style.

            • Posted August 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

              I also believe in the seperation of Church and State. And if you read the amendment, it prohibts “government prayer, anywhere, anytime, any style.”

      • RF
        Posted August 11, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        @ the sodomite:
        1. If they’re in the womb, they aren’t babies.
        2. Abortion is a liberty. The Constitution protects people against deprivations of liberty. If women don’t have the right to their own bodies, what rights do they have?
        3. According to the Bible, “the sin of Sodom” is being arrogant and unwelcoming. It would be difficult to argue that the Constitution allows the government to outlaw arrogance and absence of hospitality. Furthermore, given that you’re a sodomite, it’s a bit odd that you’re taking issue with your behavior being constitutionally protected.

        “He can give you numerous examples where a person’s right to express his or her faith in public was denied or forbidden.”
        I’ve already had my fill of Christians making completely unfounded allegations.

  33. Gordon Hill
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    As a Missouri boy myself I wonder if my leaving had something to do with this.

  34. saguhh00
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    I think it’s time for a Mark Twain quote:

    “The so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive … but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition. The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five hundred years before Christian religion was born.”
    — Mark Twain, from Albert Bigelow Paine, Mark Twain, a Biography (1912), quoted from Barbara Schmidt, ed, “Mark Twain Quotations, Newspaper Collections, & Related Resources”

  35. sailor1031
    Posted August 11, 2012 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    “In what other area of instruction are students’ religious beliefs “violated”?

    Since you ask: cosmology, geology, physics, organic chemistry, comparative religion, literature to name but a few….

  36. Posted July 1, 2013 at 7:50 am | Permalink

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