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The February 16, 2008 issue of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that state Representative Michael McGhee has proposed that Missourians vote on a constitutional amendment in November that reads, “to ensure that schoolchildren have the right to pray and exercise other free religious expression in a nondisruptive manner in their school.“ Representative McGhee states that he has heard stories of students admonished at school for their religious faith and a child was forbidden to bring a Bible on a school bus.
These are not adequate reasons for the state to adopt an additional constitutional amendment. Each one of these alleged incidents could have been corrected on a one-on-one basis. Further, over the past forty-five years, federal courts have clarified students’ rights regarding prayer, reading the Bible while in school, and the study of the Bible by student-led and student organized religious clubs. Thus, the proposed constitutional amendment is unnecessary. We, the citizens of Missouri, and the General Assembly need to better spend our time debating and voting on more substantive issues and problems in the months ahead.
The House Special Committee on General Laws voted “do pass” on this proposed amendment by a vote of 7 to 1. Hopefully, the Missouri General Assembly will not place it on the ballot. If it is, we should vote "No"!
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Lowe "Sandy" MacLean is vice chancellor emeritus, University of Missouri, St. Louis, and is active in local political and community organizations, including the Grand Order of Pachyderms (GOP), a service organization for the Republican Party.