Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recently signed into law Senate Bill 755, the House of Worship Protection Act, which was considered a major victory for religious protection in the state of Missouri.
The new law makes it an offense to disrupt worship services in a church, synagogue, mosque or other houses of worship and individuals who intentionally and unreasonably interrupt or disturb the order and solemnity of a worship service could be prosecuted for their activity.
The law is designed to combat the tactics of activist groups who target churches for protests because of their religious beliefs, said Mo Family Policy Council Member Joe Ortwerth. “Several incidents have occurred across the country where protesters who object to Biblical beliefs and traditional values stage boisterous protests in the middle of worship services.”
Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer of Dexter sponsored senate Bill 755 and Rep. Shane Schoeller of Willard sponsored the companion bill in the Missouri House. The legislation was developed and advanced by the Missouri Family Policy Council working in consultation with the Alliance Defense Fund.
With a vote of 24-9 the Missouri Senate approved senate Bill 755, while the Missouri House passed the bill by a vote of 111-26.
“This new law helps ensure that Missouri citizens can gather in the church of their choice and worship God without interference,” said Ortwerth. “Our religious freedoms mean little if they can be taken hostage by aggressive and abusive behavior in church sanctuaries. Citizens will now have the peace of mind that they can meet in their houses of worship without being harassed, intimidated, or bullied, for expressing their faith.”
Missouri now joins other states that have adopted statutes that protect the integrity and security of worship services.
“We applaud members of the Legislature for acting to protect the freedom of religion of families throughout Missouri,” Ortwerth said. “We also commend Governor Nixon for choosing to protect houses of worship across our state.”
Also trying to protect religious freedoms is Secretary of the State Shane Schoeller, who is endorsing the Missouri Right to Pray amendment that will appear on the ballot in August.
This amendment , which came just one day following Nixon’s Bill signing, would constitutionally protect the rights of Missourians to pray in public places.
“In recent months, we have seen a series of attacks on our religious freedom from liberals like Barack Obama and the ACLU trying to force religious institutions to provide contraception or restricting the right to pray in public meetings,” Schoeller said. “It’s time we fight back. I wholeheartedly support and endorse the Missouri Right to Pray Amendment and urge Missourians to join me in this important effort.”
According to Schoeller, the Obama administration has been seeking to mandate insurance coverage of contraception, even for religious institutions. Just last month, the ACLU sued Missouri’s Franklin County for opening public meetings with a prayer. The ACLU also sued to block the prayer amendment from appearing on the ballot.
“Shane Schoeller is a champion of protecting our Christian faith from attacks by liberal groups like the ACLU,” said Dick Bott, Founder and Chairman of Bott Radio Network. “I am thankful for his continued support of religious freedom in Missouri and I especially appreciate his work to pass this extremely important prayer amendment in August.”