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Missouri Family E-News

June 19, 2012


Appeals Court OKs Prayer Amendment Ballot Language  

 

 

A Missouri Court of Appeals has upheld the ballot summary for the Missouri Prayer Amendment to be voted on by Missourians in the August 7th primary election.

 

A three-judge panel of the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that the ballot summary prepared by the Missouri General Assembly was fair and adequate.

 

The ACLU filed suit on behalf of two citizens seeking to invalidate the ballot measure, or failing to do so, asking the Court to rewrite the ballot summary with inaccurate language.

 

Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce had previously ruled against the ACLU's lawsuit, concluding as well that the ballot summary was sufficient and fair.

 

Chief Judge Lisa White Hardwick wrote the opinion for the Western District Appeals Court.  "[The ballot summary] is an accurate description of the proposed amendment's purpose...The General Assembly's summary in this case is set forth in language that does not appear likely to deceive or mislead voters...as to the purpose of the ballot measure."

 

The Missouri Prayer Amendment will ensure that public school students will have the right to pray on a voluntary basis in their schools.  It also protects the right of citizens to gather on public property and in public settings to pray and acknowledge God.

 

The Missouri Prayer Amendment will appear as Amendment 2 on the August 7th ballot.  You can read the text of the amendment by clicking this link:

Missouri Prayer Amendment

     

 



Pro-Abort Groups Press Nixon to Veto Pro-Life Bill

 

 

Pro-abortion forces are waging a vigorous campaign to convince Governor Jay Nixon to veto pro-life legislation passed during this year's General Assembly.

 

Anti-life groups are pressing Nixon to reject Senate Bill 749, sponsored by Senator John Lamping.  The bill is a challenge to the contraceptive and abortion drug mandate issued by the Obama Administration.

 

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Missouri are orchestrating the veto campaign, and have been joined by NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, the Sierra Club, and the Missouri chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women.  The veto campaign took on new strength in the last week with the involvement of the Missouri AFL-CIO.

 

Lamping's bill states that no employee or employer can be compelled to obtain or provide health care coverage for abortion, contraception, or sterilization, if such items or procedures violate their religious beliefs.

 

Lamping's legislation would not reverse the impact of the contraceptive mandate in Missouri.  However, it would become law in Missouri if the abortion drug mandate were to withdrawn by a new President, repealed by Congress, or invalidated by a federal court.

 

The contraceptive edict issued by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requires that all health insurance plans include coverage for every contraceptive approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  That includes the abortifacient drugs Ella and Plan B.

 

The mandate takes effect August 1st.  Religious organizations other than churches will have until August 1st of 2012 comply.  That means that Catholic institutions and employers will be forced to provide health insurance coverage that violates their religious doctrines, or drop their health insurance coverage altogether.

 

The contraceptive and abortion drug mandate is the most egregious violation of religious liberty ever witnessed in our nation.

 

We encourage you to contact Governor Nixon's office to urge him to sign Senate Bill 749.  You can call his office at (573) 751-3222, or e-mail him through this link:

Governor Nixon   

 

Governor Nixon has until July 14th to decide to sign or veto Senate Bill 749, or to allow it to become law without his signature.   

 

Franklin County Officials Send Message to ACLU:  "We'll Keep Praying" 

 

 

The Franklin County Commission will continue to offer invocations before their meetings in defiance of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking to halt the practice.  Members of the County Commission have voted unanimously to adopt a new policy establishing guidelines for invocations offered before their meetings which permit sectarian prayer.

 

The ACLU has filed suit in federal district court claiming that the invocations amount to an establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment.  The ACLU is demanding that the Franklin County Commission stop offering invocations altogether or limit the invocations to non-sectarian prayers.  The issue arose as a result of Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer leading his fellow commissioners in prayer prior to their meetings at the Franklin County Government Center in Union.  

 

"There are people who are okay with this and some who aren't, but we aren't reinventing the wheel,"  Griesheimer says.  "We could simply ignore the ACLU, but that's not the right thing to to do."  

 

The policy adopted by the Franklin County states that those offering invocations may not offer prayers that proselytize on behalf of their religion or disparage any other religious beliefs.  These are the guidelines established by the United States Supreme Court in the 1983 case Marsh v. Chambers, in which the High Court upheld the practice of invocations before government meetings.

 

The ACLU is promoting a ruling by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in July of last year in which that court decided that prayers of a sectarian nature were unconstitutional.  The Court ruled that prayers offered by the Forsyth County Commission could not mention the name of Jesus, and must be generic in nature.  The Court falsely claimed that Supreme Court precedent requires such restrictions.

 

However, other federal appeals courts have ruled otherwise.  The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in 2008 declaring that sectarian prayers were consistent with Marsh v. Chambers.  In yet another case just handed down by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, that court determined that sectarian prayers could be offered in the Town of Greece, New York.

 

The Second Circuit declared that "a state-imposed requirement that all legislative prayers be non-denominational...begins to sound like the establishment of 'an official or civic religion,'" in violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause.  The court went on to say:  "Under the First Amendment, the government may not establish a vague theism as a state religion any more than it may establish a specific creed."

 

The concept of "non-sectarian prayer" is a contradiction in terms.  Prayer by its very nature is a conversation with God.  The argument that a person cannot mention the God one is addressing in a prayer is a non sequitur.  A Christian is instructed by the word of God to pray in Jesus' name.  It is curious, but not at all surprising, that those who insist that the name of Jesus be censored in prayers do not seem to have an objection to prayers which mention other "deities" by name.

 

The Franklin County Commission has wisely made the decision to engage the Alliance Defense Fund to represent them in the lawsuit.  ADF is the leading legal interest firm in the country on Free Exercise cases.  Brett Harvey of ADF will serve as lead counsel.  The ACLU is seeking $1 in damages from the lawsuit, along with their attorney fees which could amount to thousands of dollars.

 

The case is in the hands of an able judge.  U.S. Eastern District Judge Stephen Limbaugh, Jr will hear the lawsuit.  Limbaugh is a former Missouri Supreme Court justice who was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush.  Even if Limbaugh's decision were to be appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, prospects are very good that the appeals court would uphold the Franklin County prayer policy.

 

We applaud Commissioners John Griesheimer, Terry Wilson, and Ann Schroeder for standing up for the freedom of religion on behalf of the people of Franklin County.  We encourage you to call the County Commission at (636) 583-6358 to thank them for courageously standing up to the ACLU.  You can also contact the Commission by sending an e-mail to commission@franklinmo.net

 

This episode illustrates the significance of the Missouri Prayer Amendment to be voted on by Missourians on August 7th.  That proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution makes clear that government bodies may invite ministers, clerygpersons, and other individuals to offer invocations before meetings of government bodies.  

 

 

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