Early Voting is now underway for the Nov. 2 constitutional amendment elections. I urge every Texan to do their homework and cast an informed vote on each of the eight proposed amendments that are before the voters. Voters can find more information at VoteTexas.gov.

But I want to spotlight a specific amendment, Proposition 3, also known as the “Right to Worship Amendment.”

“Prop 3” would prevent the State of Texas, or the government at any level, within the state from closing down any gathering of worship; it prohibits government agencies and officials from issuing orders that close or have the effect of closing “churches, congregations, and places of worship” in Texas. Prop 3 also further secures the Texas Freedom to Worship Act, passed during the 87th Regular Session, by preserving it in the Texas Constitution.

The first words of the Texas Constitution are a plea: ” Humbly invoking the blessings of Almighty God...” Currently Section 1, Article 6 of the Texas Constitution deals with our freedom to worship. Some legal scholars believe that this should have been enough to prevent local government from regulating or closing religious services during COVID. Obviously, it wasn’t enough in light of the actions by some local government officials in Texas who tried close church worship services and some pastors being threatened with jail for violating local orders on public gatherings.

Section 6 was originally written to prevent any citizen from being compelled to attend a religious service — so many local politicians and bureaucrats limited its interpretation to just that.

The passage of Proposition 3 will make it crystal clear to government at any level that they have no right to interfere with religious services — it will be a guaranteed right of every Texan under our state constitution.

With Proposition 3 as part of the Texas Constitution, the local head of a church or the governing board of any religious body will have the power to decide what is best for their membership when it comes to public health and the needs and desires of the people they serve when it comes to religious worship — as it should be.

Section 6 was not enough to prevent government interfering with the worshipping practices of people of faith, whether they be Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindu — or any of the other various worldwide religious faiths.

Prop 3 will clarify this and make it crystal clear in our Texas Constitution that no government or political subdivision has the right to shut down, interfere or prevent any Texan from participating in worship services or attending church functions.

Each proposed constitutional amendment deserves each voter’s full attention. But Prop 3 and the cause of defending our right as Texans to gather to worship God and celebrate our faith would be enough reason for me to go the polls and vote.

All registered voters are eligible to vote on this statewide ballot issue. Early Voting is now underway and ends on Friday, Oct. 29. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Join me in celebrating our right and duty by voting in this important election.

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An eighth-generation Texas farmer and rancher, Sid Miller is the 12th Commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture.