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Ronald F. Fischer, Grand Forks, Published May 18 2012

Measure protects liberties

The opponents of the proposed religious liberty amendment to the North Dakota Constitution (Measure 3) fall into two camps: those who use baseless fear tactics to scare people into voting “no,” and those who are advocates of big government control over religious freedom. North Dakotans, however, are much smarter than the opponents give them credit for, and will not fall for either of those approaches.

One of the arguments made is that Measure 3 would allow a husband to beat his wife and claim that his religion allows him to “discipline” his wife. Although they don’t come right out and say so, the not-so-subtle hint by the use of that argument is that Sharia law would result from the passage of Measure 3. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Measure 3 preserves the government’s right to enact just laws that prevent the use of religion to justify criminal acts. The government has always had a compelling interest in protecting its citizens, and religion can’t be used as a way of getting around those laws. So Measure 3 will not in any way affect laws preventing spousal abuse.

Likewise, take a careful look at who is opposing Measure 3. While I don’t like to attack the messenger, in this case I make an exception. All of the people I am aware of who have been outspoken against Measure 3 are people who have direct connections to big government, either as employees of government entities, or in positions of power in government. Understandably, an institutional mentality tends to set in that “government knows best.” I disagree. I believe the people of this great state know best.

Over the years, our religious liberties have come under increasing attack, and now are threatened almost on a daily basis. Most recently, the Department of Health and Human Services, by federal government mandate, is forcing religious organizations to provided sterilization drugs, abortifacients and contraceptives against their sincerely held religious beliefs. Adoption agencies in some states are being forced to abandon their beliefs or go out of business. These attacks are happening today.

That is why we need to put in place the protection that Measure 3 provides for us, in North Dakota. Our current constitutional provision on religious liberty is arcane and confusing, at best. Measure 3, on the other hand, is clear and concise. It is only three sentences long. It protects religious liberty, but gives the government the power to regulate, in the least restrictive manner possible, religious practices that go against compelling government interests.

The people of North Dakota are a caring, serving people. Many religious organizations provide the means for that generous service. Today these attacks on our religious liberties are preventing these caring people from their mission of service.

The government should not burden a person’s or religious organization’s religious liberty. Measure 3 protects and preserves religious liberties for my children and grandchildren. Join me and vote “yes” on Measure 3 on June 12.