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Introduced Version Senate Joint Resolution 5 History

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SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 5

(By Senator Barnes)

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         [Introduced February 18, 2013; referred to the Committee on the Judiciary; and then to the Committee on Finance.]

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Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of West Virginia, amending section fifteen, article III thereof, relating to religious freedom; numbering and designating such proposed amendment; and providing a summarized statement of the purpose of such proposed amendment.
    Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia, two thirds of the members elected to each house agreeing thereto:
    That the question of ratification or rejection of an amendment to the Constitution of the State of West Virginia be submitted to the voters of the state at the next general election to be held in the year 2014, or at any special election held prior thereto, for the purpose of presenting to the voters of the state the question of ratification or rejection of an Amendment to the Constitution of the State of West Virginia, which proposed amendment is that section fifteen, article III thereof be amended to read as follows:
ARTICLE III. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM GUARANTEED.
§15
.
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 West Virginia 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, clergy persons 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.
    Resolved further, That in accordance with the provisions of article eleven, chapter three of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, such proposed amendment is hereby numbered "Amendment No. 1" and designated as the "Religious Freedom Guaranteed Amendment" and the purpose of the proposed amendment is summarized as follows: "To amend the State Constitution in order to strengthen and clarify religious freedom, in particular the right to pray and express religious beliefs, in private and public places."


    NOTE: The purpose of this resolution is to strengthen and clarify right to pray and express one's religious beliefs in private and public settings.

This section has been completely rewritten; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.
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