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John Hougen, Bismarck, Published May 11 2013

Letter: They were played like marionettes

Our founders could not anticipate an issue like abortion hindering the workings of government as it has now for 40 years. They clearly understood how elected officials like Sen. Margaret Sitte, R-Bismarck, and Rep. Bette Grande, R-Fargo, could use their office to impose their own religious views on the population and took steps to prevent that.

Many of the colonies were failed theocracies, and our founders had the foresight to keep religion separate from government to assure religious freedom for all. Because we have lost track of this, the North Dakota Legislature this session has made all of us subject to Catholic and other church dogma, not through free choice but through legislation.

This Legislature addressed many difficult issues. No matter how well they address economic, energy, health and education issues though, this session will be remembered for restricting religious freedom and limiting the decisions residents can make based on their own conscience on abortion. We can commune with our God and our conscience, then make our decision as Sitte and Grande see fit.

To guard against God not making his views clear enough to his followers, they have codified in North Dakota law what they feel his decision should be. We should all be offended by this low opinion of North Dakotans’ ability to think for themselves. It is unfair to single out these two; they didn’t do this on their own, and for that much of the assembly can be criticized.

They have allowed themselves to be played like marionettes by out-of-state interests that Bill O’Reilly rudely, but rightly, dismissed as Bible thumpers. And they willingly gave these special- interest groups access to our state treasury to fund their court battles. This doesn’t resemble government as our founders envisioned as much as the governments our ancestors fled.