Last week, Amendment 2 passed the Missouri state legislature. Otherwise known as the “right to pray” amendment, the proponents of the ballot measure claim that it’s necessary to protect the rights of Christians in the state by ensuring that children can express their beliefs in school and permit state-funded schools to display the Bill of Rights.
What’s that, you say? You thought that these were already protected rights in this country? Yeah, you’re right. In fact, the ACLU says that the amendment only makes three changes to the law:
Since the right to pray in public or in private is already vigorously protected by the federal and state constitutions, the Proposed Constitutional Amendment would make only three changes to existing law. First, it would limit inmates in Missouri prisons and jails to the religious liberty rights provided by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and would strip them of their state constitutional protections for religious expression and liberty. Second, it would require all free public schools receiving state funds to display the text of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution of the United States. Third, it would give students in public and private schools a new right to refrain from participating in assignments or educational presentations that violate their religious beliefs.
Whoa. Back up a second. What is that third change? It would give students in public and private schools the right to “refrain from participating in assignments or educational presentations that violate their religious beliefs?” Um…
Please tell me that other people see the problem with this. So a student could just not do an assignment on evolution because his or her wacky new Earth creationist religious beliefs? Even if those wacky new Earth creationist beliefs are factually incorrect? What if a history class teaches about the contributions of LGBT people? These students can just…ignore it?
Tell me, what is education for? Is it just state-sponsored baby sitting? Are teachers not supposed to challenge a student’s beliefs? Beliefs, I’m willing to bet, many if not most kids don’t know why they believe, but always have. Education is more than just learning facts, although that’s a necessary component. It’s also about being exposed to new ideas and theories and the evidence that backs them up. An education provides people the ability to think and be critical. But if students have the right to just refuse to learn anything new, then what is the point of schools?
There is no point. No point at all.
Image credit: woodleywonderworks