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Yankee Doodle Legislation Alert – Amendment 2

August 4, 2012

Every year, and especially during campaign seasons, citizens hear reports of legislation, and in this case ballot initiatives, that will be the be-all and end-all to what ever cultural or statutory ill that bemoans the masses. Often, elected will campaign on this extraordinary legislation, because it has an element of emotional engagement, of which almost always torches the passions of the voting public. More often than not, this new and improved version of the “quick-fix bill” does nothing more than engage the ever hopeful public to get them to the polls, and in the end, they are left with yet more legislative bureaucracy and no solution to the problem. Politicians however, manage to get elected during the election cycle, and because they sponsored such an important and popular bill/initiative, they have garnered a reputation for being a champion of the people and the title of “true conservative.”  I call this legislative hijinks Yankee Doodle Legislation. Can’t you hear the faint resonance of the fife and drum corp in the background?

Amendment 2 is just such and example of Yankee Doodle Legislation.

Philosophically, there is no question, Christians are being persecuted, in America and Missouri, more every day. And there is a great need to fight back against it. Amendment 2 is not going to accomplish the goal of maintaining Christian religious freedom. Here’s why.

Here’s the official ballot language that has Christians all lathered up in support of Amendment 2.

Official Ballot Title:

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.

It is estimated this proposal will result in little or no costs or savings for state and local governmental entities.

Christians want to be able to push back against infringement on their religious freedoms. They want their children to have the right to pray in schools, and they want the Constitution and Bill of Rights displayed in schools. Fine, but why won’t Amendment 2 accomplish this? Because you already have that right.

The Missouri Constitution states:

Religious freedom–liberty of conscience and belief–limitations.Section 5. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; that no human authority can control or interfere with the rights of conscience; that no person shall, on account of his religious persuasion or belief, be rendered ineligible to any public office or trust or profit in this state, be disqualified from testifying or serving as a juror, or be molested in his person or estate; but this section shall not be construed to excuse acts of licentiousness, nor to justify practices inconsistent with the good order, peace or safety of the state, or with the rights of others.

It also states:

Practice and support of religion not compulsory–contracts therefor enforceable.

Section 6. That no person can be compelled to erect, support or attend any place or system of worship, or to maintain or support any priest, minister, preacher or teacher of any sect, church, creed or denomination of religion; but if any person shall voluntarily make a contract for any such object, he shall be held to the performance of the same.

Freedom of speech–evidence of truth in defamation actions–province of jury.

Section 8. That no law shall be passed impairing the freedom of speech, no matter by what means communicated: that every person shall be free to say, write or publish, or otherwise communicate whatever he will on any subject, being responsible for all abuses of that liberty; and that in all suits and prosecutions for libel or slander the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and in suits and prosecutions for libel the jury, under the direction of the court, shall determine the law and the facts.

So, as of today and on August 8th, should the initiative fail, you have the freedom of speech, the right to display the Constitution in schools, the right to withdraw your students from any educational setting you deem inappropriate, and among other things, the right to pray, or not, anywhere you choose. And I didn’t even cite the U.S. Constitution which states the same.

Here’s what you don’t have.

The reason we are all in this great mess, together, is because we have all been remiss in our obligation to hold government accountable. That’s right. It’s our own fault we have let this issue escalate to this current oppressive level, and amending the State Constitution isn’t going to solve the problem. We don’t have a common community who has been responsible for holding accountable legislators and the judiciary for their bad actions and malfeasance.

Let’s discuss government’s role  in perpetuating religious persecution.

For decades we sat idle as our judicial system has, in Missouri and across the country, ruled in favor of law suits that chip away at our religious freedoms afforded us by our Constitutions. One of the latest assaults on religious freedom is taking place in Franklin County, by the ACLU, against local government protesting public prayer. There is no public outcry, demonstration or resistance against this petition. It will quietly be dealt with and a ruling will be made, good or bad, and it will go largely unnoticed.

Had a similar suit been filed 50 or 60 years ago, I wonder if the same issue would have been viewed with such malaise. Judges have, over time, moved with politically corrected sentiment of the culture, pressure from political special interests, and remained not so focused on constitutional verbiage. There is no doubt that the judiciary has driven the remolding of the Christian influence in America. Why do we allow it?

The Missouri House of Representatives has the authority to impeach. Writing legislation is not their only job. The Constitution states:

Impeachment–officers liable–grounds.

Section 1. All elective executive officials of the state, and judges of the supreme court, courts of appeals and circuit courts shall be liable to impeachment for crimes, misconduct, habitual drunkenness, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude or oppression in office.

Power of impeachment–trial of impeachments.

Section 2. The house of representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment. All impeachments shall be tried before the supreme court, except that the governor or a member of the supreme court shall be tried by a special commission of seven eminent jurists to be elected by the senate. The supreme court or special commission shall take an oath to try impartially the person impeached, and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of five-sevenths of the court or special commission.

The language is broad, and some say, open for interpretation. I contend interpretation would have been quiet different 50-60 years ago without the current influence of the politically corrected culture. When judges rule contrary to upholding and defending the Constitutions or state statutes, why isn’t someone at least asking questions related to willful neglect of duty? The argument will always be that it is too difficult to impeach. Doing the right thing is not always the easy thing and it should be a priority for our elected in contrast to writing more legislation to “fix” problems.

While some Christians are hoping beefing up the Constitution will fend off muslim oppression against Christians, the language in the proposed Amendment 2 may also backfire on their intentions.

Amendment 2 is yet another opportunity for voters to send a message to elected servants, that they hold strong their Christian values, but referendum voting does little to actually protect rights and liberties. Prop C/the Health Care Freedom Act is the state’s most recent example referendum voting. Politicians are still boasting and campaigning on their support and involvement in passing the bill that did absolutely nothing to bring Missourians freedom in healthcare choice. Referendum voting is useless without accountability.

Christians cannot resort to depending on government, as liberals do, to cure injustice that they won’t, themselves, stand against within the culture. The Constitutions already afford Christians, and all citizens, with the right to worship freely. Modifying constitutional language will only constrict freedom and do nothing to bring the accountability the hopeful are looking for. Accountability can only come from the people.

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