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Missouri Family E-NewsApril 18, 2011



Bill to Combat Sexual Abuse of Students Wins Senate Approval


The Missouri Senate has passed legislation which would help keep teachers out of the classroom who have engaged in sexual misconduct with students.  The proposal, sponsored by Senator Jane Cunningham of Chesterfield, was approved by the Senate on a unanimous vote of 34-0.


The bill seeks to deal with a pernicious pattern in the public school system.  A teacher or coach commits sexual abuse of a student and is released by the school district.  The abuser then moves on to another school district which is unaware of the prior conduct because of employee confidentiality stipulations and agreements.  The teacher or coach then engages in sexual misconduct again.  This scenario is often referred to as "pass the trash."


Under the provisions of the bill, any school district employee who shares information about a former employee with another school district will be immune from any civil action in court seeking damages.  Any school district which failed to disclose information concerning sexual misconduct by a former employee in discussions with another school district would be liable for damages.


The bill also requires that a school district suspend any employee who has been the subject of a child abuse investigation where the state's Division of Children's Services has substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct.  School officials who receive allegations from a student of sexual misconduct must report that information to state child abuse authorities within 24 hours.


All applicants for a state teaching certificate would be required to undergo a criminal background check.  The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will also be required to conduct an annual check of teachers with active certificates against criminal history records, the sexual offender registry, and the child abuse registry.  A state audit conducted by State Auditor Susan Montee in 2007 found that students were at risk because of inadequate background checks.


The Senate amended Cunningham's bill to include another child protection measure sponsored by Senator Ryan McKenna of Crystal City.  Known as "Erin's Law," the proposal calls for the development of a curriculum in the public schools to discourage incidents of sexual abuse.


Senator Cunningham has been working valiantly for several years to address the horrendous problem of sexual predators in the educational system.  "Missouri statutes prohibit sexual offenders from being within 1000 feet of our schools, yet we allow them right inside our classrooms," Cunningham observes.


Senator Cunningham's bill is named "The Amy Hestir Student Protection Act."  Amy Hestir is a Missouri woman who was repeatedly molested and assaulted by her junior high school teacher during her youth.  The perpetrator went on to teach in other Missouri school districts.





U.S. Senate Keeps Money Flowing to Planned Parenthood

The United States Senate has voted to continue allocating federal taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood.  The Senate voted down a resolution previously approved by the U.S. House of Representatives which would have terminated funding for the nation's leading abortion provider.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill voted to continue the flow of federal dollars to Planned Parenthood, while Missouri Senator Roy Blunt voted to terminate future federal subsidies to Planned Parenthood.
"This vote made clear which senators care more about the interests of the politically influential abortion lobby than the lives and safety of American women and families," says Charmaine Yoest, President of Americans United for Life.
Planned Parenthood clinics performed more than 332,000 abortions during 2009.  Yoest points out that Planned Parenthood has announced plans to expand its abortion operations, mandating that every affilite must have at least one abortion clinic within the next two years.
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, says the Senate vote is an affront to taxpayers at a time of trillion-dollar budget deficits.  "Taxpayers send Planned Parenthood more than $360 million each year, more than one-third of their $1 billion income.  At a time when the federal deficit is growing to suffocating proportions, taxpayers should not be subsidizing a scandal-plagued abortion giant."
The victory for Planned Parenthood comes in the wake of extremely damaging recent information concerning Planned Parenthood's business practices.  Undercover videos showed numerous Planned Parenthood clinics willing to collaborate with individuals engaged in human trafficking.  Previous repulsive practices uncovered included a willingness to cover up cases of statutory rape, and a willingness to accept donations for the purpose of aborting black preborn children.
The U.S. House had previously voted 241-185 to zero out federal funding of Planned Parenthood.  Missouri Congressmen Todd Akin, Sam Graves, Billy Long, and Blaine Luetkemeyer, and Congresswomen Jo Ann Emerson and Vicky Hartzler voted to halt federal appropriations to Planned Parenthood.  Congressmen William "Lacy" Clay, Emmanuel Cleaver, and Russ Carnahan voted to support funding for the nation's leading agent of death for children in the womb.

Federal Court Dismisses Challenge to National Day of Prayer



A federal appeals court has struck down a lower court ruling which had declared that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.  The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has rejected a lawsuit filed by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, ruling that the atheist group had no legal standing in the matter.


The Freedom from Religion Foundation had challenged Congressional action establishing the first Thursday in May as a national day of prayer and thanksgiving to God.  The Foundation claimed that the national prayer observance amounted to an establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.  U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb agreed with the Foundation, ruling that the designation of a National Day of Prayer serves no secular purpose.


The three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit overturned Crabb's decision, concluding that the plaintiffs had no legal basis for filing the lawsuit.  The court stated in its opinion:  "The psychological consequence produced by observation of conduct with which one disagrees is not an injury for the purpose of standing...All [the plaintiffs] have is disagreement with the President's action.  But unless all limits on standing are to be abandoned, a feeling of alienation cannot suffice as injury in fact."


The appeals court panel observed that the Presidential proclamation of a National Day of Prayer does not compel any person to pray "any more than a person would be obliged to hand over his money if the President asked all citizens to support the Red Cross or other charities."


Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, expressed support for the decision.  "The Court is to be commended for rejecting the idea that...religious 
expression is to be scrubbed from the public square.  Americans enjoy religious freedom...because our Founders recognized that religious liberty is a gift of God, not the government, and because of the sacrifices of countless men and women to defend it. "


"This ruling send a message to Judge Barbara Crabb and any other activist judge who would rewrite the Constitution to advance a hostile treatment of religion in public life," Perkins added.  "Americans have the right to pray together as a nation.  That is exactly what the Founding Fathers intended."


Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, described the ruling as "a victory for our nation's heritage and history."  "We're extremely pleased that the appeals court determined that while some may disagree with a presidential proclamation, they do not have the right to silence speech they don't agree with."


The Missouri Family Policy Council is continuing to press efforts here in our own state to safeguard the religious freedoms of Missouri citizens.  Legislators are considering a proposed constitutional amendment which would protect the right of schoolchildren to pray on a voluntary basis in the public schools.   The joint resolution would also assure that all Missouri citizens retain the freedom to pray and acknowledge God in public settings and on public property.  It would also guarantee the privilege of government bodies to offer invocations before public meetings and proceedings.


The House bill, House Joint Resolution 2, sponsored by Representative Mike McGhee, has been approved by the full House and will be heard in the Senate General Laws Committee this week.  The Senate bill, Senate Joint Resolution 16, sponsored by Senator Jack Goodman, has been already endorsed by the General Laws Committee, and has been placed on the Senate calendar for debate.


Congressman Todd Akin, a student of American patriotic history, notes that there have been 135 national calls to prayer, fasting, and Thanksgiving by Presidents of the United States since the first one was issued by President Washington in 1789.  Congress first enacted a law establishing a National Day of Prayer in 1952.  President Reagan signed the law passed by Congress in 1988 designating the first Thursday in May for the formal annual observance.


This year's National Day of Prayer, the 60th annual observance, will be held on May 5th.  The theme chosen by the National Day of Prayer Task Force is "A Mighty Fortress is our God."  The theme is based on the Scripture found in Psalm 91:2: "I will say to the Lord He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God in whom I trust."  Joni Eareckson Tada is the honorary chairwoman of this year's event.


Shirley Dobson, Chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, urges the nation to look to God for refuge and strength during this time of national challenge and discord.  "Prayer is an indispensable part of our heritage, and as citizens, we must remain faithful in our commitment to intercede for our nation during this pivotal and challenging time."


You can read more about the National Day of Prayer by visiting their website at this link:

National Day of Prayer


You can learn more about local and regional prayer events around Missouri by clicking this link:

Find an Event


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