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Published June 12 2012

Forum editorial: North Dakota voters trounce Measure 3

If there was a surprise in Tuesday’s North Dakota primary election, it was the defeat of Measure 3, the so-called religious liberty constitutional amendment. The measure was a sleeper early in the campaign, but became an emotional headline-grabber in the past couple of weeks.

It’s not that the measure went down. It should have gone down, and common-sense North Dakotans knew as much. But the margin of defeat was greater than most observers expected. After all, North Dakotans are a church-going, faithful people who value their freedom to worship in their own way.

Worship in their own way.

Now that’s the point. Measure 3 made North Dakota voters uncomfortable because, had it passed, it threatened to entangle government and the courts in all aspects of religion, worship and faith-based social services and parochial education. The language of the measure was vague – crafted, it seemed, to foster such entanglements – as if its sponsors and supporters were actually spoiling for a fight.

A majority of voters saw the apparent ploy. A majority of voters instinctively understood that the active involvement of bishops and other church leaders, which included their politicking from the pulpit, violated foundational American caution about the activities of religionists in secular state matters.

Good for them. Good for North Dakotans who examined Measure 3 and concluded correctly it was an ill-conceived and dangerous solution in search of a problem that does not exist.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.