Victory for Secularism in North Dakota on Measure 3

 

It was a welcome victory for secularism on Tuesday, as voters in North Dakota soundly rejected a proposal that would hand broad privileges to the deeply religious. The North Dakota Religious Freedom Amendment, nicknamed Measure 3, read:

‘The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest’

While the law is largely a reaction to the Health and Human Services Mandate, related to the Affordable Care Act, opponents claimed its language was broad and opened the door for claims of religious belief to shield child abuse, domestic abuse, and men marrying girls as young as 12-years old. Proponents say this is not the case. At the minimum the proposal sought special exemptions for religious belief, not provided to other groups. North Dakotans rightly decided that supernatural faith should not trump laws intended to solve real-life problems.

North Dakota voters have just struck a win for secular values; a stark contrast to the recent direction of so many other states. As the Secular Coalition for America continues to organize our 50 State Chapters, it’s encouraging to see the strong support for secular values displayed by North Dakota voters. The North Dakota chapter of the Secular Coalition for America is included in phase four of the chapter roll out and will hold its initial organizing conference call in mid-August. The majority of North Dakota voters showed support, Tuesday, of the chapter’s mission to protect the secular character of government. I am excited, moving forward, to see how Secular Coalition for America’s state-level efforts can strengthen defenses of secular government nation-wide.  

 

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