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Joe Ortwerth's
 Jeff City Update
Missouri Family E-News June 29, 2009
Churches Invited to Join Call2Fall
 
Churches across the nation are being encouraged to join in a national day of repentance this Sunday. The national prayer initiative, Call2FAll, is being promoted by the Family Research Council.  Its purpose is to challenge the nation to fall on its knees before the Lord and ask him to change our lives and renew our land. 
 
"America needs change," says Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council.  "Yet the change we need will not come from Washington or Wall Street.  It can only come from God.  The day after we celebrate our 'Independence,' we need to re-declare our 'Dependence' upon God in humble and repentant prayer."  Perkins adds that we must take responsibility for the state of our nation by confessing our corporate and individual sins.
 
Billy Graham has these words of wisdom:  "When ancient Israel turned against God, the prophets warned that God's judgment would eventually come upon them--and it did...Sometimes it happens in one great catastrophe; sometimes it happens in a series of smaller disasters and defeats.  But it happens.  We can change the course of events if we go to our knees in believing prayer.  To get nations back on their feet, we must first get down on our knees."
 
Graham's son, Franklin Graham, adds these thoughts:  "We need another great awakening, a fresh revival that puts us on our knees, brings us to repentance for our sins, and turns our hearts back again to worship and obey God.  There is no other way for America to be great again."
 
For more information on the Call2FAll, click this link:  www.call2fall.com
 
Emily Brooker Case Subject of New Documentary
 
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has released a mini-documentary on the freedom of conscience incident involving Emily Brooker of Missouri.  Brooker was threatened with expulsion from the Social Work program at Missouri State University in Springfield for refusing to send a letter to the Missouri Legislature advocating for homosexual adoption.  Brooker was subjected to hostile interrogation by school faculty for her religious beliefs. 
 
The Alliance Defense Fund filed suit against the university for violating Brooker's free speech and religious rights.  Missouri State settled the lawsuit, clearing Brooker's record of any adverse evaluations and waiving her academic fees. 
 
The university hired an an outside group of social work education experts to examine the Missouri State Social Work Department.  The study concluded: "Many students and faculty stated a fear of voicing different opinions from the instructor or colleague.  This was particularly true regarding spiritual and religious matters...There is an  atmosphere where the Code of Ethics is used in order to coerce students into certain belief systems regarding social work practice and the social work profession."  The report also stated there was anecdotal evidence to suggest that admission standards in the social work program were being diffentially applied with possible bias against students who were "faith-based."
 
This episode illustrates why it is so important for Missouri to amend its Constitution to provide much stronger religious liberty protections for its citizens and students.  A bill promoted by the Missouri Family Policy Council has been approved by the Missouri House the last two sessions, but has died in the Missouri Senate.  You can view the documentary by clicking this link: www.thefire.org
choosing "Multimedia" from the menu on the FIRE website, and there you will find the video entitled "Threats, Coercion, and Bullying."
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Sex Offender
 Names to Be Restored
to State Registry
 
Thousands of individuals who have committed sex offenses in Missouri will be restored to the state's Sex Offender Registry as a result of a decision by the Missouri Supreme Court.  The state's High Court has ruled that sex offenders are required to register with law enforcement officials, regardless of when they were found guilty of their crimes.
 
Missouri was one of a number of states who adopted sex offender bills during the 1990's which were commonly referred to as "Megan's Laws."  The laws were named after a 7-year old New Jersey girl, Megan Kanka, who was raped and murdered by a twice-convicted pedophile who was living in her neighborhood.
 
Under the provisions of Missouri's "Megan's Law," persons convicted of sex crimes must notify local law enforcement authorities of their place of residence, place of work, and the vehicle they drive.  The Missouri State Highway Patrol is required, and local law enforcement authorities are authorized, to maintain websites where citizens may access information about sex offenders who live in their area.  The state's sex offender registry took effect on January 1, 1995.
 
Individuals subject to the law include offenders guilty of such crimes as kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a minor, possession of child pornography, or the furnishing of pornographic material to minors.
 
In previous decisions, the Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that those convicted of sex crimes prior to 1995 were not required to register their names and
information.  The Supreme Court concluded that such a requirement violated the Missouri Constitution, which prohibits laws from being applied retroactively.  As a result, numerous child molesters with prior convictions ended up exempted from the law.
 
Under a new ruling just issued by the Missouri Supreme Court, sex offenders who were found guilty prior to January 1, 1995, must now register as well.  The state's High Court determined that such individuals were still subject to a federal law known as SORNA (the Sexual Offenders Registration and Notification Act.)  SORNA was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2006, and applies to all offenders, regardless of when they were convicted. 
 
State Senator Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau applauded the Missouri Supreme Court ruling.  Senator Crowell has worked for the last three years to pass a proposed constitutional amendment which would have applied Missouri's "Megan's Law" retrospectively.  His proposals were not given final passage by the General Assembly. 
 
"[This] ruling [is] a victory for anyone concerned with protecting Missouri's children from sexual predators," Crowell says.  "When it comes to sexual offenses, especially against children, 'when' a crime is committed seems irrelevant...What matters is that these sex offenders were convicted and the community deserves to know who and where they are."
 
In related news, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has announced that 373 Missourians have been removed from the social networking site MySpace, "because their profiles appear to match those of registered sex offenders."  Under an agreement reached with state attorneys general last year, MySpace agreed to delete the profiles of any user it identified as a sex offender.
 
"We must protect our children from sex offenders, whether children are playing in a playground or on a computer,"  Koster said.  "I will continue to aggressively pursue any avenue sex offenders use to threaten the safety of our children." 
 
Koster has forwarded the names to the Missouri Highway Patrol.   The Attorney General has asked  the agency to review them to see "if any of the individuals are violating parole by using a computer or attempting to contact minors." 
  
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