Don’t Let Students Use Religious Freedom Amendment to Avoid Academic Assignments

Right to Pray

Target: Missouri State Representatives

Goal: Stop using religious freedom as an excuse to lower academic standards

Efforts to protect religious freedom have recently culminated in the passing of Missouri’s Amendment 2, which gives students the right to openly practice and express their religion in schools without fear of prosecution—a right that is already protected by the US Constitution. The ballot informed voters of its intent to protect students’ “right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools,” but left out that it authorizes students to dismiss academic assignments at their discretion on the basis that they conflict with their religious beliefs.

Amendment 2 is a misguided attempt to protect Constitutional rights; in fact, it is profoundly unconstitutional. Critics claim that the wording on the ballot oversimplified the details of the amendment to the point of deception. Supporters insist that Amendment 2 was necessary to protect the religious freedom of Missouri’s Christians, who claim to have become “public targets” despite representing 80 percent of the state’s population.

Putting aside the possibility that students might attempt to take advantage of this amendment to avoid schoolwork—a possibility that Republican state representative Mike McGee denies is significant—blurring the lines between religion and academics has negative implications for the quality of public education. A national assessment taken in 2009 determined that less than half of all high school students in the US had proficient knowledge of science, with a majority of students demonstrating only minimal knowledge; this amendment will ostensibly reduce these numbers.

Religious freedom is a right worth preserving, not favoring at the expense of other rights. Prior to the passage of Amendment 2, obtaining a quality education did not affect a student’s “right to pray” or vice versa. This amendment threatens the separation of church and state in defense of a group whose religion is not in need of further legal protection.

Contact Missouri state representatives to let them know that quality education for all should take priority over imprudent attempts to protect religious freedom.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Missouri State Representatives,

Please do not allow the paranoia of a religious majority to impede on the education of others. Students’ right to practice their religions in public schools is already protected by the Constitution; Amendment 2 does not do anything to further protect freedom of religion of students in Missouri. Instead, it essentially provides students a legal venue to avoid learning core subjects like science and history.

This is a matter of public education and a religious majority’s attempt to overtake it under false pretenses. Repeal this amendment, protect the separation of church and state, and prevent the degradation of public education; students should not be granted the power to dictate their own curriculum.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: sidewalk flying via flickr

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65 Signatures

  • Marianne Oelman
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