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Missouri Family E-News

January 17, 2012

Judge Orders Removal of Prayer Banner



A federal judge has ordered a Rhode Island School to remove a prayer banner that has been hanging in the high school auditorium for the last 50 years.


U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux has instructed administrators at Cranston West High School to take down the banner, which he says constitutes an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.


The banner has been displayed across from the school creed since 1963, and was a gift of the school's first graduating class.  It was developed by the school's student council, and was hung there at the students' request.


The banner reads as follows:  "Our Heavenly Father, Grant us each day the desire to do our best, to grow mentally and morally as well as physically; to be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers; to be honest with ourselves as well as with others.  Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win.  Teach us the value of true friendship.  Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West.  Amen."


David Bradley, who authored the language when he was a seventh grade student, is incensed.  "I am upset, disappointed, and outraged.  It's a shame that some judge can make a ruling like that.  It's just one more example of secularism  eroding the fabric of America."


Bradley, who is now 65, spent his career as a music teacher in the Newport, Rhode Island school district.  "I had the noblest of motives when I wrote that prayer.  The language speaks to basic virtues such as civility, intelligence, and common decency."    


The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of an atheist student, who claimed the banner made her feel "excluded and ostracized."  The school board voted earlier this year to keep the banner up and contest the ACLU lawsuit.


The school district has yet to decide whether to take down the banner as they debate whether to appeal the judge's decision to a higher court.  In the meantime, the banner is covered by a tarpaulin.                 


Keyes, Carney to Headline Pro-Life Event



Dr. Alan Keyes, one of the most eloquent and outspoken advocates for the pro-life cause, will make a visit to Missouri this Wednesday.  Keyes will be a keynote speaker at the annual banquet of the Mid-Missouri 40 Days for Life group.


Keyes made his name as a radio talk show host and three-time candidate for President.  He also served in the Reagan Administration as an Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs.


Keyes will be joined by Shawn Carney, co-founder of the 40 Days for Life Campaign.  Carney launched the first 40 Days for Life in 2004 in College Station Texas.  40 Days for Life is a dedicated period of 40 days of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion.


Carney has now expanded the 40 Days for Life effort to include 422 cities in all 50 states.  The Mid-Missouri chapter of 40 Days for Life has been one of the more active and effective groups in the country.


The banquet will be held this Wednesday, January 18th, at the St. Martin's Knight of Columbus hall in Jefferson City.  Proceeds will benefit the Jefferson City Pregnancy Help Center, St. Raymond's Society, in addition to Mid-Missouri 40 Days for Life. 



Legislation Filed to Protect Conscience Rights in Health Care

Missouri lawmakers have introduced legislation which would protect the conscience rights of health care workers and religiously-based health care institutions.  The proposals would ensure that physicians and nurses would not face employment discrimination for refusing to participate in medical procedures which violate their religious beliefs.

The proposals, advanced by House Majority Leader Tim Jones of Eureka and Senator Scott Rupp of Wentzville, would strengthen Missouri's conscience rights laws as they apply to abortion.  Current Missouri law prohibits an employer from discriminating against employees because they object to participating in abortions.  However, there are major loopholes in that law, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1986.

The law does not apply if it would pose "an undue hardship on the conduct of a particular business or enterprise," or if assistance in abortion is "a bona fide occupational qualification."  Those were the very reasons recently given by a New Jersey hospital for forcing a group of nurses to participate in abortions under threat of termination.

Current Missouri law does not provide any conscience protections for health care employees with regard to other medical procedures of moral concern outside of abortion.  The proposed law would protect doctors and nurses from being involved against their will in additional areas of medical care, treatment, or procedures of moral consequence.

Such medical services include sterilization, in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, the prescribing or administration of abortion-inducing drugs or so-called "emergency contraception," or the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration.  Medical researchers would also be protected from being required to engage in fetal tissue research, fetal experimentation, human cloning, human embryonic stem-cell research, or human somatic cell nuclear transfer.

The proposed statute would extend conscience protections to a broad range of medical professionals including physicians, physician's assistants, nurses, nurses' aides, medical assistants, hospital employees, clinic employees, long-term care employees, counselors, social workers, medical researchers, medical or nursing school faculty or employees, and students or applicants for training in any program in the health care professions.

Such medical professionals would be protected against any form of adverse employment action due to the exercise of their conscience rights.  These include termination, suspension, demotion, reduction of wages  or benefits,  refusal of staff privileges, refusal of board certification, loss of career specialty, or any other penalty or disciplinary or retaliatory action.

The legislation filed by Representative Jones and Senator Rupp would also protect the conscience rights of health care institutions that object to providing certain medical procedures.  Such institutions would not be civilly, criminally, or administratively liable for declining to provide a medical service so long as they provide a consent form to be signed by a patient before admission. 

State authorities would not be allowed to discriminate against such institutions because such medical services are contrary to that institution's moral precepts.  An institution's conscience would be defined by its moral, religious, or ethical guidelines, mission statement, constitution, bylaws, or articles of incorporation.

The issue of health care conscience rights has received major national attention over the last few years.  President George W. Bush implemented comprehensive regulations enforcing conscience rights for medical professionals in the waning days of his Administration.  Regrettably, President Obama revoked those regulations earlier this year except as they apply to abortion.

Dr. David Stevens, President of the Christian Medical and Dental Association, says that Christian health care practitioners face moral dilemmas in the workplace on a regular basis.  Stevens says that 40 percent of the organization's members say they have been pressured or discriminated against because of their pro-life convictions.  Stevens reports that a nationwide poll of their members revealed that nine out of ten faith-based physicians would cease practicing medicine rather than be forced to violate their moral conscience.

The health care conscience legislation was developed and advanced by the Missouri Family Policy Council in concert with the Missouri Catholic Conference.  The legislation follows a model recommended by Americans United for Life.  We urge you to pray for our legislators as they debate this issue of great
concern to the Christian community during this legislative session over the coming months.

Joe's Signature