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Free Pray State

by Rabbi Rami ShapiroAugust 06, 2012

Missourians vote tomorrow to save prayer in the public square. A proposed amendment to the state’s constitution would protect a person’s right to pray in public, and would allow students to opt out of any assignment or learning experience that violates their religious teachings.  A recent poll suggests the amendment will pass by a huge margin, and I say more power to ‘em. It’s about time that Missouri’s 80% Christian majority stand up to the overwhelming 20% who have been forcing them into the closet for years. St. Louis alone has only 3700 churches; my God the city is almost as church free as Saudi Arabia!
Of course the amendment doesn’t limit this freedom to Christians alone, so people of false faiths can pray to their false gods as well, but this can be corrected with an amendment to the amendment which I expect will probably be filed in a year or so. In the meantime it is springtime for theists. I want to see Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Rastafarians, Mormon, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists, Moonies, and devotees of the Flying Spaghetti Monster as well as oppressed Protestants praying all over the state. The more the merrier.
As for students opting out of learning on religious grounds, this can only bode well for the state’s educational ranking. For example, if you believe the earth to be only 10,000 years old you can opt out of most science classes. And if you believe that evolution is the Devil’s lie you can opt out of the rest. So the only students who will take science courses will be kids who like science, and that can only improve the states ratings on nationwide science evaluations.
Similarly in English classes if students can skip any readings that might not support their particular faith. For some the only book they will read is the Bible. Again this can only improve the state’s English ranking as students who don’t do well in English will drop out and focus on reading Mark rather than Mark Twain.
Good for you, Missouri. The “show me” is going to show the rest of us just what a free pray state is about I can’t wait.

Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. His spiritual advice column, "Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler," addresses reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more.

His newest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art: Shattering the Illusion of Control and Falling into Grace with Twelve-Step Spirituality.

He has this to say about religion: “To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the mindset of the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you know, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multi-lingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence.”

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