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Missouri Passes Right to Pray Amendment

Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution reiterating individuals’ right to pray publicly and in schools.

On a day when GOP primaries promised the most competitive statewide races, the amendment passed with 83 percent of the vote, with only two precincts still outstanding.  The measure was introduced by Republican state Rep. Mike McGhee andwas  moved onto the ballot by the General Assembly.

The amendment’s official ballot title was as follows:

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.

Freedom of speech and religion are already protected under the Bill of Rights, prompting critics of the bill to call it unnecessary and a move to trample religious minorities.  Republican lawmakers pursued the measure as a clarification of doubt.

Speaking to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in May, Democratic state Rep. Mike Kelly criticized the amendment as “jobs bill for lawyers.”  The measure also drew opposition from the Islamic Foundation of St. Louis, which voiced fears that the bill sent a message of exclusion to religious minorities.  Missouri’s four Catholic bishops supported the amendment, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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