It is Time to Pray and Act to Protect Missouri’s Religious Freedom

By April 7, 2016Missouri
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If we do not protect our religious freedoms, who will?!

SJR39 “Prohibits the state from imposing penalties on individuals and religious entities who refuse to participate in same sex marriage ceremonies due to sincerely held religious beliefs.” Click here to read the bill, check on its status and more.

Your state representative needs to hear from you on this issue!

Take Action: Please contact your state representative and ask him/her to support SJR39. “Pass SJR39 out of the House as it came over from the Senate.  Please don’t accept any changes to SJR39. To amend SJR39 is to kill SJR39.” Click here to find out who your representative is and how to contact him/her.

Note: If there are any changes made to SJR39 in the House, it will effectively kill the bill for this session and the opportunity to vote on it this year. The Senate used parliamentary rules to get it out of the Senate before Spring Break. They had to shut down a Democrat-led filibuster. If any changes are made to SJR39 in the House, SJR39 will have to go back to the Senate. To shut down a second filibuster on SJR39 just couldn’t happen, so SJR39 will die, and the people will not have a chance to vote to secure these protections this year. It would be two more years before the people could expect the opportunity to vote on this amendment. How many Missourians would be negatively affected in that time?

This proposed constitutional amendment prohibits the state from imposing a penalty on a religious organization who acts in accordance with a sincere religious belief concerning same sex marriage, which includes the refusal to perform a same sex marriage ceremony or allow a same sex wedding ceremony to be performed on the religious organization’s property.  The state cannot penalize an individual who declines, due to sincere religious beliefs, to provide goods of expressional or artistic creation for a same sex wedding or wedding reception.

Persons protected by this resolution may use the law as a claim or defense in a legal proceeding regardless of whether the state is a party in the dispute.

Nothing in the resolution 1. prevents the state from providing lawful marriage licenses or other marital benefits; 2. allows a hospital to refuse to treat a marriage as valid for the purposes of a spouse’s right to visitation or to make health care decisions; 3. shall create a cause of action against a private employer by an employee for termination related to the employee’s religious beliefs concerning same sex marriage.

Additional Action Items:

  • If time allows, please contact the chairman and members of the Emerging Issues Committee to which SJR39 has been assigned and ask them to support SJR39.  Click here for their names and contact information.  The message is, “Please vote do pass with no changes to SJR39. To amend SJR39 is to kill SJR39.”
  • Save the date: Tuesday, April 19 – Religious Freedom Rally at the State Capitol. Watch for more information to come.

Please Pray.  Pray that the plans of those opposing this legislation would be thwarted and that those in support of it would be bold and courageous.  Pray for each office holder by name as you contact them.

More information about this important bill:

A great explanation of SJR39 from our friends at the Missouri Baptist Convention and Pathway.

What does the Missouri Religious Freedom Amendment (SJR39) do, not do?

It is entirely defensive, a shield, not a sword. It prevents the State and local governments from imposing penalties on clergy, churches, religious organizations and some wedding vendors which, for religious conscience reasons, wish to not participate in a wedding involved two people of the same sex or gender.

Who is protected?

All pastors and staff, churches, organizations and institutions like church run children’s homes, church-run universities and all church-run schools. It even prevents accreditation boards, which are non-state actors, from indirectly allowing the state to punish religious belief about same-sex marriage.

The definition of “religious organization” is not limited to nonprofits. So, for example, a for-profit Christian book seller, Family Counseling Center, Crisis Pregnancy Center or Publishing House that holds itself out to the public as religious is protected.

Is anyone else protected?

Yes. For-profit businesses are protected if they are closely held and the corporation either is asked to be a participant in a “marriage” or wedding ceremony; or provides goods and services that reflect creative or artistic expression and are asked to provide such goods and service for a same-sex “marriage” ceremony or ensuing celebration of the “marriage.” This would generally include bakers, photographers and florists.

What does SJR 39 not do?

  • It does not provide protection for individuals, corporations, or religious organizations who discriminate against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • It does not protect any non-religious, for-profit business, unless the business is closely held and the business is asked to either participate in a same-sex “marriage” or wedding ceremony, or provides goods and services that reflect creative or artistic expression for the “marriage” or wedding ceremony, or ensuing celebration.
  • It does not prevent state or local government from providing a marriage license or other government entitlement to same-sex couples.
  • It does not provide protection for a healthcare facility or elder care facility to refuse to treat a same-sex “marriage” as valid.
  • It does not provide protection for any action that violates the U.S. Constitution or federal law.