Missouri Senate Derails Anti-Separation Amendment

The Missouri Senate, for the third year in a row, has refused to advance a constitutional amendment permitting government-sponsored religious activities.

Under SJR 31, a proposal would have been submitted to the voters reaffirming “the citizen’s right to free expression of religion” and specifying that “individuals have the right to individual or group prayer in all private and public areas.”

The amendment would have also “provide[d] that students may engage in private and voluntary prayer, acknowledgment of God, or other religious expression, individually or in groups, and express their religious beliefs in school assignments without discrimination based on the religious content of their work.”

Religious Right activists had lobbied for the measure, claiming it would “protect the religious freedoms of all Missourians.” They pinned its failure to pass on Americans United and allies.

AU’s Legislative Counsel Dena Sher had sent a letter to every Missouri senator in January, pointing out that the amendment would likely harm, rather than strengthen, the religious liberty rights of Missouri’s citizens.

Proponents promised it would be back next year.