Missouri’s Religious Freedom Amendment, “SJR 39,” faced a dead-locked committee today, meaning the legislative effort to place the measure on the ballot this fall is probably dead for this year. But the effort to protect religious liberty in Missouri and elsewhere is alive and well.
The House Emerging Issues Committee, chaired by Republican Elijah Haahr, met at noon to vote on the measure. Brief speeches were given by members who wanted to speak. As predicted last week, Rep. Jim Hansen, Republican from Frankford, voted not to let the bill out of committee. He was joined by Rep. Anne Zerr of St. Charles County and Caleb Rowden of Columbia. All three Democrats on the committee voted no. All other Republicans voted yes. The 6-6 tie means the bill probably dies in committee without a vote in the General Laws committee or the House floor.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit was filed this week against Missouri State University because it expelled a Christian counseling student with a 3.81 GPA because the student had a religious conscience against giving marriage relationship counseling to same-sex couples. http://tinyurl.com/h3kqk6y SJR 39 would have bolstered the legal case against such a penalty.
Also this week, a Missouri public university refused to continue to recognize a Christian student ministry as a campus organization because the ministry declined to sign a policy requiring that membership and leadership must be open to “all comers” regardless of religious belief. In other words, an atheist could seek to lead the Baptist Student Union. SJR 39 would have helped protect student rights in such a case.
Also, the Colorado Supreme Court today denied the appeal of Jack Phillps, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who was held liable by the trial court violating the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act by refusing to sell a wedding cake for a same sex marriage. http://tinyurl.com/hepvm79 SJR 39 would have prevented this injustice in Missouri.
Supporters of SJR 39 say they will not stop in their efforts to fight for religious liberty for people of faith, whether in the pulpit, the floral shop, the bakery or the church counseling center. We will continue to seek ways to prevent the shrinkage of religious freedom when it collides with the moral revolution for erotic freedom, of which same sex marriage is a part.
Before the Emerging Issues committee vote, Don Hinkle of the Mo Baptist Convention asked the Speaker to reassign the bill to a different committee. The Speaker could have done this but chose not to. This did not show the kind of commitment to passing this legislation that the leadership of both house and senate had promised. Senate president pro tem Ron Richard promised to pass the bill and he kept his promise, with a vote of 23-7, in an effort led heroically by Senator Bob Onder of St. Charles. But the Speaker of the House did not show the same diligence and commitment to get it done quickly, and he has allowed it to die in committee. Supporters of SJR 39 intend to speak to Speaker Richardson soon to get his explanation for why this bill was allowed to fail.
Most Missourians lost the chance to vote on this issue. A few voters will still have a chance to express an opinion in the fall regarding politicians standing for re-election who stood against SJR 39. Republican Representatives Anne Zerr, Caleb Rowden, and Jim Hansen should be held accountable by the voters for this dismal job performance showing such disrespect for the People’s right to vote.
You can watch the committee vote on this video link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_OZnbO8B2E. The discussion by some legislators about following their personal conscience about what is right and wrong, about how to be a good Christian, about how to love one another instead of passing mean laws, etc., etc., is truly shocking. At times this sounds more like a bad Sunday School class where the teacher has not studied the lesson and the pupils take over, rambling on and on about their misguided opinions and feelings. Personal religious feelings of legislators should have been totally inappropriate. They were not being asked to vote according their personal religious views about marriage. The only issue was whether to trust the People to vote on this measure in the fall.
Rep. Hansen is very emotional in his speech, choking several times. He says this bill asked him to be God. He says that he doesn’t need a law to tell him how to be a Christian, or how to worship. He says he is going to worship as he pleases and he will trust God not men. He said he had family “in this situation” and that he still loves them. Never a word about letting the People vote on a constitutional amendment. No one was asking his opinion “what would Jesus do?” The only issue was whether you trust the people to vote on this issue.
I believe the reason these three Republicans voted no is that they were afraid the People might have voted yes. They did not trust the People. In fact, they showed disrespect, if not contempt, for the People who asked only for the chance to exercise their right to vote. The Senate got to vote. Twelve house members got to vote. No one else got to vote. The primary responsibility for this failure falls squarely on the three Republicans who rebelled against the party and the people who elected them, and who instead voted their self will. Anne.Herr@house.mo.gov, Caleb.Rowan@house.mo.gov, and Jim.Hansen@house.mo.gov.
Other contacts are here:
Todd.Richardson@house.mo.gov — Republican
Paul.Curtman@house.mo.gov – Republican (House handler)
Elijah.Haahr@house.mo.gov — Republican — Yes
Gary.Cross@house.mo.gov — Republican — Yes
Jack.Bondon@house.mo.gov — Republican — Yes
Ron.Hicks@house.mo.gov — Republican — Yes
Bill.Lant@house.mo.gov — Republican — Yes
Dave.Muntzel@house.mo.gov — Republican — Yes
Anne.Zerr@house.mo.gov — Republican – No
Caleb.Rowden@house.mo.gov – Republican – No
Jim.Hansen@house.mo.gov – Republican – No
Jeremy.LaFaver@house.mo.gov – Democrat – No
Mike.Colona@house.mo.gov – Democrat – No
Sharon.Pace@house.mo.gov – Democrat – No
On the Senate side you can thank:
Bob.Onder@senate.mo.gov, Sponsor in Senate
Ron.Richard@senate.mo.gov Pres ident Pro Tem
And your Republican senator who voted yes.
Continue to pray for Christians to get out the gospel, as fast as we can to everyone we can,
Also pray for those of us in the legal profession. We will keep you posted about our continuing efforts to keep the doors of religious freedom open for all, for the sake of the Gospel