Religious freedom is under assault in Missouri, and it is time to stand up for faith, says Ryan Johnson, president of the Missouri Alliance for Freedom. To that end, a Rally for Religious Freedom is scheduled for Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. The event is a prelude to a vote by House of Representatives on whether Missouri's Religious Freedom Amendment (SJR 39) will be placed on a statewide ballot in August or November.
Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director John Yeats and leaders of many of Missouri's largest religious denominations will be featured speakers at the Missouri Religious Freedom Rally.
Don Hinkle, a member of the statewide leadership team that created SJR 39, said LGBTQ lobbyists will host a similar event opposing SJR 39 the following day at the State Capitol.
Read previous The Gospel Herald coverage from Feb. 26: Missouri Voters May Decide on Expanded Religious Exemptions for Same-Sex Marriage Ceremonies
Believers have a God-given right to exercise their faith wherever they want to, including in public, said Johnson, the leader of the conservative policy advocacy and legislative accountability group.
"It has been one month since the Senate passed SRJ 39 after enduring a historic 40-hour filibuster. Since that time, there has been much hyperbole and misinformation from the left and their big business cronies. We urge House Leadership to move quickly to pass SJR 39," he said.
Anti-religious bigotry is on full display, Johnson said. "The time has come to push back against the opponents of religious freedom, because some believe worship and prayer belong only within the confines of our churches and homes."
Missouri Sen. Bob Onder's SRJ 39 has been referred to the House Emerging Issues Committee. Committee Chairman Elijah Haahr is favorable to religious liberty and is expected to help move the resolution through the process.
"True religious freedom allows individuals to worship by living in a manner that glorifies the Creator," said Johnson.
State Representative Paul Curtman, who serves as the House handler of SJR 39, is the son of a Baptist pastor and is a longtime champion of religious liberty.
"Missourians overwhelmingly believe citizens should not be forced by the government to violate their deeply-held religious beliefs which are protected by our Constitution. The government should not be able to force clergy, citizens or business owners to take action against their religious beliefs. Our proposal gives Missouri voters the opportunity to strengthen basic religious liberty protections to shield Missourians from this government overreach," said Johnson.
Rally organizers have stated governmental regulations should not be able to force pastors and priests to officiate same-sex weddings in violation of their sincere religious beliefs, and that government laws should not force small business wedding vendors to participate in gay weddings if it violates their deeply held religious beliefs.