Rev. Barry Lynn
On March 20, 2014, 6:00p, we will welcome Rev. Barry Lynn, the national Executive Director of Americans United. He will speak at our approximately annual dinner meeting at the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum, 3415 Olive Street. Food will be catered by the Triumph Grill, that is right downstairs, and handicapped access is available through the Grill. Cost is only $60 per person, for a three-course gourmet dinner, beer and wine. Space will be limited. RSVP by March 14 – Checks payable to St. Louis Chapter, AU should be mailed c/o Carol Bartell, P.O. Box 3881, Chesterfield, MO 63006-3881. For further information, call (314)721-7010.
On Wednesday morning, March 12, AU Executive Director Barry Lynn will be a guest on Charlie Brennan’s morning program. Rev. Lynn is scheduled to appear at 10:35a Central Time. We are sure that he will be asked about some of the church/state issues bubbling in Jefferson City, but the floor will be open for topics of all kinds. We expect that listeners will be able to call into the program with questions. The number is 800-436-7900. KMOX is 1120 kilocycles on the AM dial. As a 50 kilowatt “clear-channel” station, it can usually be picked up throughout many of the Midwestern states.
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 best 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. A public hearing was completed on January 29, 2014.
God Loves Uganda Poster
We had a good crowd for our showing of “God Loves Uganda”, an award-winning documentary by director Roger Ross Williams. It was premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and has been nominated for an Academy Award. The story is about the influence that American Evangelicals have had on the Ugandan government, encouraging them to adopt severe penalties (including the death penalty) on gay people. We screened it at the Ethical Society.
This issue remains in the news: