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Renee Gopal, Ashley, N.D. , Published June 05 2012

North Dakota Measure 3 would use religion to reinforce discrimination

Measure 3, at first glance, seems like a winner. Who wouldn’t vote “yes” for religious freedom”? Looking closer at Measure 3, voting “yes” is a bad idea.

A creation of the Catholic dioceses of North Dakota, Measure 3 would reward religious institutions and individuals who deny basic services we are entitled to under U.S. law and reinforce discrimination based on religious beliefs. Under Measure 3, the “government may not burden a person’s or religious organization’s religious liberty”– but our freedom of religion is already guaranteed under the Bill of Rights.

Measure 3 would prevent the government from legally “withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities” from a person or a religious organization that chooses to “act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief.” This means that Measure 3 would require government support of a religious organization or person who cites religious belief as justification for discrimination and denial of basic services and equal treatment.

Religious institutions cannot have it both ways. Under the U.S. Constitution, religious institutions already have the right to discriminate and deny services on the basis of religious belief. These institutions cannot then also insist upon receiving funding and other support from the government, if they are unwilling to provide programs, services and equal treatment we are otherwise entitled to under current U.S. law.

Measure 3 would have us as taxpayers subside religious institutions’ discrimination. Vote “no” on Measure 3.