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Your Opinion: Viewpoints on Amendment 2

From Sue Gibson, Jefferson City:

Dear Editor:

Amendment 2 troubles me.

No one can keep another from praying any more than they can keep one from thinking. So that is not a problem.

The proposition seems to require certain content in prayers, the two words “Almighty God.” I would hate for someone’s kid to be hauled off to the principal’s office after being overheard asking their dead grandmother to help them remain calm during an exam.

Prayers are such an individual matter, that the larger the group present, it seems to me the more important it becomes that they be expressed silently, for to apply to larger groups of people they must become diluted and general in focus in order to apply to everyone.

Let’s remain free by each being responsible for our own prayer and not monitoring those of others nor having ours monitored in turn.

No on Amendment 2.

_

From Warren Solomon, Jefferson City:

Dear Editor:

What sincerely religious, freedom-loving Missouri citizen would vote next Tuesday against Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2, an amendment to our state Constitution that affirms everyone’s right to pray? After all, this is the language we will see on the official ballot:

“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure:

• That the right of Missouri citizens to express their religious beliefs shall not be infringed;

• That school children have the right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools; and

• That all public schools shall display the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.”

What the official statement on the ballot does not say, however, is that the current Missouri Constitution already gives Missouri citizens the right to express their religious beliefs and that public school students already have the right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools.

Moreover, visitors to public schools will discover the Bill of Rights is already posted in large numbers of social studies classrooms throughout our state. The proposed amendment seems to change nothing.

To vote responsibly on this matter, however, citizens need to go to both the wording of current law in Missouri’s Constitution (http://www.moga. mo.gov/const/A01005.HTM) and to the proposed new wording in the amendment (http:// www.sos.mo.gov/elections/ 2012ballot/fulltext_1.pdf).

They need to be aware of what they are voting for.

The amendment in its entirety is really much longer than the current section of the Bill of Rights dealing with free- dom of religious expression. Sadly, the new language will likely cause confusion for public officials, school administrators, teachers, and students.

There is also a good chance that it may lead to conflict and lawsuits that could be costly in time and money for both the state and local school districts, whose resources are already tightly stretched.

Laws can have consequences that are unintended and sometimes harmful.

This proposal, if it becomes law in our state Constitution, is likely to have such consequences.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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