The Missouri Public Prayer Amendment [Amendment 2] is, for the most part, a reiteration of Missourian’s right to freedom of religion.
Most notably, Amendment 2 sparked controversy over what constitutes a religious belief because students can be eligible for exemption from certain studies in their classes if those studies “contradict the teachings of their religion.”
The “potential” exemption from classes is not a very compelling argument – at least given the ambiguity of “religious beliefs.” Also, alternatives already exist should a student decide to be exempt from certain classes temporarily.
Even for controversial topics, like evolution, teachers may not teach the concept as “fact” rather than a theory, or from a perspective that could influence the students; more so, given that teachers must present knowledge, the teachings wouldn’t have the ability to serve as an infringement to any religious belief – the same applies to teaching concepts, like Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other religious beliefs.
The inclusions were proposed to “defend religious rights” in the state. Terry Hodges, First Baptist Church minister, stated, it would “level the playing field for Christians”…which is ironic with an overwhelming Christian majority of 77 percent, according to States Guide USA demographics.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution already guarantees the freedom of religion, making much of Amendment 2 redundant. Accordingly, the proposals were not so much to elicit a potent change in Missouri’s educational system, as to imply that Missourians are religiously oppressed in a state where religion is robust.
Most coverage of Amendment 2 has focused on the controversy of potential exemption from classes, which is not a very notable dilemma. The very sensationalism of the matter is to imply that the balance of religious freedom is fragile and pivotal. Regardless of why or what the controversy is, because it exists, the opportunity can, and has, been taken to imply that Missouri is a battleground for religious freedom.
Amendment 2, generally, was settled hundreds of years ago when the U.S. Constitution was created – which is why it is redundant today. The rest of Amendment 2’s provisions must be proposed more specifically, and while public and media concern is appropriate, the hyperbole is not.