There’s another utopian experiment on the ballot this June. Measure 3 is the “religious liberty” measure.
I’m not sure if anyone pushing this measure has read North Dakota’s Constitution (I can’t blame anyone who’s tried and given up, what with it being a decrepit hodgepodge in desperate need of a fresh rewrite), but it starts like this:
We, the people of North Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain and establish this constitution.
Seems pretty ironclad to me. I’ll grant that North Dakota’s own Bill of Rights reads like “Yeah, but not really” on essentially every point, but there it is in the preamble, religious liberty.
A lot of religious traditions are just odd things that don’t harm others. A particular way of trotting out the holy book. Ceremonial use of a drug. An ancient language. Dressing up its clergy and/or participants. Like all big-league religions, the Catholic Church does all this and more, and they’re not exactly harassed a lot. So why are they the biggest backers of Measure 3?
I could understand some concern and weight for passing this specific amendment, which sets a very large burden of proof for preventing religious practices, if there was a well-publicized Rastafarian bust. But how exactly has the Catholic Church, the richest and most-well-attended religious institution in the world, been persecuted in the last few years enough to merit some new constitutional guarantee?
I guess some countries in Europe started taxing their land. That sucks, I guess… but then I rather think a cathedral counts as an umpteen-million-dollar mansion.
I’m guessing the real impetus is the ongoing farce over the Affordable Care Act, which mandates coverage of women’s healthcare for any employer that says they’re equal opportunity. There’s already a specific loophole for religious employers who only recruit their disciples! It seems that the Catholic Church wants to have it both ways, however: It wants to inject its own brand of moralizing into its employee benefits… whilst still being open to godless heathens changing its linens and bedpans.
Now at best, the Catholic Church is a bit player in North Dakota medicine, so really this seems like a giant propaganda stunt with some unfortunate implications.
It’s certainly nice to think about a society where religious influence was always positive, and if people of belief were just left alone, then there’d be more happiness and harmony in society. But do you really think that’s what we’re going to get?
When I think about what the Catholic Church may start doing under Measure 3, I think of the track record it already has, of avowedly asexual clergymen leading mobs to terrorize adult bookstores and women’s clinics. How far will they go if they can’t be held criminally liable for their actions? What new crusades can we expect with emboldened clergy of all stripes?
When voting on Measure 3, consider this: Do you believe that your conscience and values place you above the courts of man? My answer is NO.
You can read up on this June’s ballot measures, as they will be presented to the people, at the Secretary of State’s website.