Missouri Constitution

Article I
BILL OF RIGHTS
Section 5

August 28, 2013



Religious freedom--liberty of conscience and belief--limitations.

Section 5. That all men and women have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; that no human authority can control or interfere with the rights of conscience; that no person shall, on account of his or her religious persuasion or belief, be rendered ineligible to any public office or trust or profit in this state, be disqualified from testifying or serving as a juror, or be molested in his or her person or estate; that to secure a citizen's right to acknowledge Almighty God according to the dictates of his or her own conscience, neither the state nor any of its political subdivisions shall establish any official religion, nor shall a citizen's right to pray or express his or her religious beliefs be infringed; that the state shall not coerce any person to participate in any prayer or other religious activity, but shall ensure that any person shall have the right to pray individually or corporately in a private or public setting so long as such prayer does not result in disturbance of the peace or disruption of a public meeting or assembly; that citizens as well as elected officials and employees of the state of Missouri and its political subdivisions shall have the right to pray on government premises and public property so long as such prayers abide within the same parameters placed upon any other free speech under similar circumstances; that the General Assembly and the governing bodies of political subdivisions may extend to ministers, clergypersons, and other individuals the privilege to offer invocations or other prayers at meetings or sessions of the General Assembly or governing bodies; that students may express their beliefs about religion in written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their work; that no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs; that the state shall ensure public school students their right to free exercise of religious expression without interference, as long as such prayer or other expression is private and voluntary, whether individually or corporately, and in a manner that is not disruptive and as long as such prayers or expressions abide within the same parameters placed upon any other free speech under similar circumstances; and, to emphasize the right to free exercise of religious expression, that all free public schools receiving state appropriations shall display, in a conspicuous and legible manner, the text of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States; but this section shall not be construed to expand the rights of prisoners in state or local custody beyond those afforded by the laws of the United States, excuse acts of licentiousness, nor to justify practices inconsistent with the good order, peace or safety of the state, or with the rights of others.

Source: Const. of 1875, Art. II, 5.

(Amended August 7, 2012)

(1953) Evidence reviewed and held to establish that schools taught by nuns of religious order were not in fact free public schools and therefore not entitled to support from public funds. Berghorn v. Reorganized School Dist. No. 8, 364 Mo. 121, 260 S.W.2d 573.

(1973) Payment of taxes by parent who sends his children to religiously oriented schools does not interfere with his constitutional right to select such a school for his children. McDonough v. Aylward (Mo.), 500 S.W.2d 721.

(1976) Denial to members of a religious society of whom only one was a priest and the others were laymen who did not have the religious ministry as a primary and regular vocation, of an occupancy permit to occupy an existing residence as their home in an area zoned single family residential was not a denial of their constitutional rights under the freedom-of-worship and due process clauses of the Missouri Constitution. Association for Educational Development v. Hayward (Mo.), 533 S.W.2d 579.


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