Vote NO on Measure 3, "Religious Freedom Amendment," Tomorrow

JUNE 11, 2012 - Tomorrow North Dakota voters will have the chance to add an amendment to your state’s constitution via the ballot initiative, Measure Three, or the so-called “Religious Freedom Amendment”—but voter beware: it’s not what it sounds like. We urge you to vote “No” on Measure Three—and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Rather than protecting religious freedom, as the title suggests, the amendment instead attempts to privilege religion over the laws of the land and could even allow religious organizations to receive and use taxpayer funds for religious purposes and activities.
 
The vague language of the amendment is so poorly written, it could also be used to shield individuals that break child abuse, domestic violence, and discrimination laws and more—as long as the perpetrator claims a religious belief as a reason for doing so. It could also protect religious institutions from having to comply with any law they deem to cause a “burden”.

Furthermore, religious freedom is already protected in both the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as North Dakota’s current state constitution—there is absolutely no need for Measure Three.

So, why is it on the ballot? According to North Dakotans Against Measure Three, “The state measure appears to be part of a national agenda of the Catholic Church and other religious organizations… The measure says government may not ‘burden’ religious liberty but does not define burden or call for reasonable exceptions, as do religious liberty amendments in other states.” The site explains, “Measure Three is virtually unprecedented in scope because it allows individuals to challenge any burden on their religious beliefs, regardless of degree.”

A recent article in USA Today elaborated, “The amendment states that even ‘indirect’ burdens, such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties or excluding people from programs would be prohibited. So not only may you home-school your child, you might even be able to force taxpayers to pay for your child to attend a parochial school… It carries a faint odor of theocracy.”

In reality, Measure Three is a thinly veiled attempt to force North Dakota’s secular state government to privilege religion. Vote “no” tomorrow on Measure Three, and encourage others to do the same!

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