One problem that existed in the 18th century in America was state sponsorship of religion. The authors of these two founding documents of our nation would probably be surprised to discover that one of our problems in the 21st century is an attack by government and others on religious liberty. The recent court challenges to the Pledge of Allegiance because it includes a reference to “God”, the challenges to public expression of faith and the attempts to stop religious organizations from using public spaces are examples of what some describe as a “war on religion”. Just last week, Vanderbilt University, a private research university in Nashville, Tennessee, announced that student prayer groups must allow atheists to participate in their meetings.
Even our federal government seems to be attacking religious organizations and churches or at least it is oblivious to the moral convictions of our citizens. A statement recently issued by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius outlined the “final rule” which mandates the items and services that must be included in an employer provided health insurance policies under ObamaCare. The preventive health services mandated by the federal government will include sterilization procedures and a wide range of contraception items including the “morning after pill”. To the surprise of many, including the Conference of Catholic Bishops, no exemption is permitted for religious organizations that have moral objections to these types of services. Many religious organizations, including the Catholic Church, run large institutions which employ thousands of employees which provide essential services to the communities where they are located. These include hospitals, schools, universities, adoption agencies, and organizations that provide other charitable services. Because no exemption for conscience is provided to these entities, they will have to decide whether to violate a tenant of their faith, not provide insurance to their employee or close their doors.
This significant departure from our nation’s traditional respect for matters of faith and conscience has caused some observers to describe this action of President Obama to be an attack on our constitutionally guaranteed religious liberty. In response to this ruling by Secretary Sebelius, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt is the lead sponsor of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, a bill in his chamber that dials back “requirements for coverage of specific items and services”.
In order to protect people of faith and conscience in Missouri, we are currently drafting legislation to protect Missouri citizens from this assault in regard to employer provided health insurance. This legislation will protect employers and employees from a legal requirement of offering or accepting a service under a health plan when such services or benefits violate their religious belief or moral convictions. This legislation would also prohibit government from discriminating against or penalizing an employer that for moral or religious reasons does not offer a specific item or benefit in a health insurance plan. We hope to have this legislation filed within the next couple of weeks. This legislation is designed to help protect the religious liberty of all Missourians.
HB 1104, sponsored by Rep. Shane Schoeller (R-139), specifies that a person seeking to vote in a public election must show a valid photo identification, driving or non-driving, to election officials before they can receive a ballot and have it counted. This is a simple, common sense requirement that all should embrace to protect one of our most sacred and fundamental rights and to seek to end the rampant voter registration fraud that continues to be discovered across our Nation. All costs incurred by an election authority to implement the photo identification requirement will be reimbursed by the state. If the voter does not have a valid identification, they are allowed to cast a provisional ballot. If the reason for not having a valid identification is because they cannot afford to receive a new birth certificate or other documentation, they can sign an affidavit to receive a ballot. If an individual does not have their identification with them, they are allowed to vote using a provisional ballot. It will only be counted if they return to the election authority and present the appropriate identification within three days after the election.
My latest polling results in the 128th District dealing with this topic with 298 responding:
YES – 72.8%
NO – 24.5%
No Opinion – 2%
No Response - .7%