I’ve been reading about a bill, in Missouri, which if passed by the legislature, and signed into law, would not allow any of those that make a court challenge of separation of church and state, to remain anonymous, unless that person were a minor. When I first read about this, I was skeptical that this proposed law would only affect those certain cases. Today I decided to do a little more investigation and , yes, that’s all it would affect.
The bill, HB 728, is very short and indeed does only affect those citizens that would make a court challenge based on religious preference. Of course, “atheists” are not mentioned specifically in the language but it seems clear, from the language, this is who the change in law is directed towards.
The bill alone though doesn’t describe the why for this bill, so after a bit more research ( a couple of minutes worth), I found this article from a local newspaper that gave more background into why this is being proposed. It seems that Christians are feeling persecuted, by the number of lawsuits they are having to defend and it appears that one way of decreasing these, would be to name names of those actually bringing the action.
Most times, these challenges are brought by an umbrella organization, like The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based on a complaint from a resident or a group of residents. Those people’s names have been protected up until now but if this were to become law, would of course change and possibly stigmatize if not actually place those individuals in jeopardy.
Of course if this passed it would strangle those that support church-state separation from ever being part of a civil action. I’m unsure how this may pass a Constitutional test as well because the legislation penalizes a single class. Currently, it doesn’t look like the bill is going anywhere, but all of us that are interested in this topic should be concerned that public safety is less important to some than protecting their religious belief.