Some Missouri religious leaders oppose controversial bill regarding religious freedom

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Gov. Jay Nixon, the NCAA and some corporate business leaders have all come out against Missouri's SJR-39, a Senate Joint Resolution that would allow business owners to refuse service to individuals or groups without penalty if that business owner did not want to provide service because of religious objections. But, perhaps more unexpectedly, a group of Missouri faith leaders are also opposing the resolution.

The faith leaders gathered Wednesday afternoon at the Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ in Kansas City, Missouri. About 20 faith leaders were there representing eight different religions and denominations. They explained that SJR-39 is not about religion. 

"We are all here today to call these measures what they are: the manipulation of religion to serve prejudice," said Donna Simon, pastor of St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church.

"I, we stand here today with the God of compassion, a God that does not hate, a God that upholds the dignity of all of us - straight and gay; and as God's creative beings, we should do no less," said Rabbi Douglas A. Alpert of congregation Kol Ami.

The faith leaders have launched a petition drive on Change.org called Petition Against SJR-39. The resolution has already passed the Missouri Senate and is now in the House. The faith leaders are asking the House Speaker not to allow the measure to come up for a vote.  

SJR-39 would be a constitutional amendment if it passes. If the House approves the measure, Missouri voters would have the final say in a statewide election.

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Cynthia Newsome can be reached at cynthia.newsome@kshb.com.

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