Earth Day 2013
What does Earth Day have to do with separation of church and state? We’re not sure, either, but we are sure that we meet lots of our members and others interested in becoming members at the booth we have had the last three years. We will again be participating this year, on Sunday, April 27, from 11:00-6:00, at the Muny grounds in Forest Park. This is a free event. Come out and meet us!
You may have heard AU Executive Director Barry Lynn On Wednesday morning, March 12, when he was a guest on Charlie Brennan’s morning program on KMOX. He was our special guest at our dinner on March 20.
When Senator Wayne Wallingford of Ste. Genevieve saw the wonderful “freedom to discriminate” bill that was just vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (a Republican) he apparently couldn’t wait to introduce the same thing in Missouri. SB 916 is the result. The law would allow service providers such as florists, wedding photographers, restaurants, and presumably funeral homes to deny service to patrons who offend the business owner’s religious sensibilities. This apparently is intended to allow discrimination against the LGBT community, but it could also be applied against atheists and others. The successful reaction against the bill in Arizona was because of its perceived economic impact. Even before the veto, conventions in Phoenix were cancelled and the NFL was threatening to pull a SuperBowl. We don’t think there is any chance that our governor would sign such a bill, but it is another opportunity for our legislators to embarrass the citizens of Missouri.
The complete text of the bill can be found at: http://www.senate.mo.gov/14info/pdf-bill/intro/SB916.pdf
This was a free public lecture at the Washington University Law School by The Honorable Guido Calabresi of the Yale Law School and the U. S. Court of Appeals. The lecture was presented on Thursday afternoon February 27, 2014. We understand that an audio recording of the lecture will be available on the Danforth Center Website. When it is, we will link it from here.
This bill provides public (state) funding and public subsidies for student scholarships for private schools. Given that Missouri has not been able to come near funding the so-called Foundation Formula for public schools for years, it seems outrageous that state money would be diverted to funding private schools. We would think it a bad idea for the state to fund such institutions, even if the money were actually available. Further, the bill provides direct tax credits to taxpayers who contribute to private as well as public schools. This bill would seem to directly contradict the Missouri constitution, which is (surprisingly) explicit about public support for private/religious schools.
This bill has no hearings scheduled and is not on a calendar, so it will die unless resurrected (which does happen sometimes).
The text of the bill can be read at http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills141/billpdf/intro/HB1472I.PDF
This law would allow medical providers to opt not to provide service on the basis of their religious beliefs, such as a pharmacist refusing to fill a birth control prescription. AU feels that a health provider should not be able to impose his/her religious beliefs on clients. Missouri is filled with small towns that have a limited number of pharmacies and a person in need should not have to travel to another town in order to receive service.
This bill has been referred to the Rules Committee where it was voted “Do pass” on February 10. It has also been amended. The amendment stipulates that whatever procedures the provider or the institution will not participate in shall be posted prominently.
The bill text can be read at http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills141/billpdf/intro/HB1430I.PDF.
According to the Beacon/St. Louis Public Radio, House Bill 1430 passed 116-38 on a mostly party-line vote February 12, with 10 Democrats joining the GOP majority in voting “yes.” State Rep. Chris Molendorp of Belton cast the lone Republican “no” vote. The next day, it was approved by the House. It has had its first reading in the Senate.
This bill would add a new section to the law relating to the academic freedom of teachers to teach science evidence regarding evolution. AU might actually support this bill, if it were not for the fact that it is intended to allow science teachers to try to refute the evidence for evolution. The bill was referred to the Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education on 2/5/14, but a hearing has not yet been scheduled. You can read the (lengthy) text of this bill at http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills141/billpdf/intro/HB1587I.PDF.
This bill would require schools and districts to notify parents if the subject of evolution by natural selection is to be discussed in class, so that a request could be made to have the student excused from that material. [There is no such exemption available for the theory of gravity nor the subversive subject of relativity (heaven forbid!)].
There are no hearing scheduled on this bill, and it is not on a calendar yet, so it will die without further action.
You can read the complete text of this bill at http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills141/billpdf/intro/HB1472I.PDF
This bill is entitled by its sponsors the “Missouri Student Religious Liberties Act”. The result of its passing would be to constrain public school teachers and administrators from curbing almost any kind of student expression of religious viewpoints in many fora. For example, students would be allowed to include religious expression at graduation ceremonies or at any public ceremony at which a student is allowed to speak. Presumably, this would include the presentation of prayer at such occasions. We feel that it is imperative to maintain prayer as a private activity, not to be part of the public school activities. Read the whole bill at http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills141/billpdf/intro/HB1303I.PDF. We encourage you to contact your legislator to encourage him/her to vote against this proposed law. This bill is scheduled for floor debate during the week of March 24. We encourage you to contact your legislator, to express your opposition to this invasion of religion into the public schools.
Below are contact numbers for some of the central corridor legislators:
Joseph Keaveny (4th District): 1-573-751-3599 firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Chappelle-Nadal (14thDistrict): 1-573-751-4106 email@example.com
John Lamping (24th District): 1-573-751-2514 firstname.lastname@example.org