Missouri Advances Religion Bill After Satanic Worship Debate

By John Celock

The Republican-controlled Missouri Senate passed legislation Wednesday that will protect religious freedom in schools following a debate centered on Satanic worship, witchcraft and the religious conflict in Northern Ireland.

The Senate voted 30-1 to approve legislation that will protect students and staff in Missouri public schools from wearing clothing or practicing religious beliefs in the schools. This would include allowing for religious references during school speeches and other related activities. Sen. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) said the legislation, which has already passed the GOP-led state House, would allow a degree of protection for students and staff.

“It does not require anyone to participate in religious activity,” Silvey told his colleagues.

Silvey stressed that schools would still be able to enforce discipline in the case a religious observation caused an issue in the schools.

During the debate, Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) questioned Silvey on whether the legislation would allow for students to wear clothing that promoted Satanic worship or witchcraft. Silvey said that students would be allowed to practice Satanic worship if they wanted to, along with witchcraft.

“I would assume that it would if it was not vulgar or did not violate the school’s vulgarity rules,” Silvey said. “They have the right to worship Satan if they want to.”

Schaaf also raised concerns that religious clothing could cause issues between conflicting religions, noting that the conflicts in Northern Ireland have been based on religion, along with the Provence being a part of the United Kingdom. Schaaf said a similar law in Northern Ireland could cause problems. Silvey noted he is not an expert on Northern Ireland law but said that violence is prohibited in Missouri public schools and would not be allowed based on religious shirts.

During the debate, Silvey said the bill would be enforced based on civil cases if a school district failed to adhere to the law. Other senators noted that the bill would allow a certain degree of protection to students and staff. The bill now advances to Gov. Jay Nixon (D) for consideration.

“This is a bill that was passed overwhelmingly in the House and it provides important religious liberties,” Silvey told his colleagues.