Former ND Gov. Calls Measure 3 Dangerous
by Kiersten Cooley, KVRR Reporter
May 21, 2012
A religious freedom measure is trying to change the rights of worshipers statewide, and North Dakota's former governor believes it's going way too far.
Former Governor George Sinner said, “I've never felt so strongly about a resolution and this is a bad one. It portends bad things.”
Religious rights are currently protected by the first amendment, but a Measure 3 sponsoring committee says that's not enough.
Committee Chairman Tom Freier said, “Across the country and even here in North Dakota, there is an infringement on our religious liberties.”
Measure 3 would amend the constitution by adding this provision: "Government may not burden a person's or religious organization's religious liberty. 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."
“It gives protection to the people. Without the compelling interest test, that really allows the government to infringe on our religious beliefs for very little reason at all,” Freier said.
“In all my years I've been in public office, no one has complained to me about their rights,” said Sinner.
So Sinner insists there's no reason to change them, and says instead of giving rights back to the people, it's actually taking them away.
“Every individual has the right to his or her own choices and this will put the rights under control of a couple bishops,” Sinner said.
Measure 3 supporters say these same rights are currently being violated by the government.
“Measure number 3 is really about protection [...] from the government that we think should be protecting us,” said Freier.
“They want to control people, and it's very dangerous in my mind,” Sinner said. But ultimately it's up to the voters to decide on the June 12th ballot.
Freier says 27 other states already have similar religious freedom language in the constitution.