So, measure three is being billed as a state amendment to use against the war on religion. Of course, there isn’t one, but that’s beside the point.
A Catholic Bishop supporting the amendment, obviously reeling from his organization NOT being forced to provide comprehensive health insurance to women but also not being able to stop insurance companies from being obligated to provide it, sold the amendment this way: “So whether one is Catholic, or Protestant, Jew or Muslim, Hindu or Sikh, Mormon or Buddhist, civil law must protect their God-given rights to exercise their faith and to live their faith,” he said. “Make no mistake, your ability to be pro-life and pro-family is being threatened, and Measure 3 is a strong defense against that threat.”
(I certainly hope he is not saying that your ability to deny girls and women health care is being threatened and this amendment is a great defense for forcing rape victims to become pregnant by their rapists by not providing emergency contraception when you’re the only game in town or pressuring doctors to refuse to treat women with life-threatening conditions such as essentially sending a nun to hell through excommunication because she refused to allow a woman to die due to pulmonary hypertension — because that’s not pro-life or pro-family unless you’re really confused.)
Now, I suspect this person actually realizes that the list of religions he offers to us is not exhaustive. He neglected to mention Christian Science and Jehovah Witnesses, for instance, whose religious beliefs involved lack of medical care to MEN not just women (the horror). However, certainly a “compelling interest” argument could be made to ensure that employees of businesses owned by Christian Science that provide health care coverage (and get the tax benefit from that) cover more than praying and businesses owned by Jehovah’s Witness that provide health care coverage (and get the tax benefit from that) cover blood transfusions (though I suppose the insurance companies could be compelled to provide blood transfusion coverage for free to make them feel better).
Of course, there aren’t very many of Christian Science and Jehovah’s Witness adherents in North Dakota. However, it really doesn’t matter. In this scenario you could be worshiping at the feet of the Great Wise Cameron and the state would be compelled to treat your sincerely held beliefs as more deserving of protection, of less deserving of burden, and in need of a compelling interest to dismiss than if those beliefs were held outside of religion.
That is why I say it doesn’t go far enough. Religious beliefs are protected and religious rights are protected by this amendment – but outside of religion they are not. In this way, this amendment favors religion over mere personal conviction and conscience. Liberty for all – as long as your beliefs are written down somewhere and someone Christened those tablets, that book, or that scrawl on a napkin “religion”. Then – and only then – are they given to you by God and deserve the respect of the state!
So, let me do some revisions:
“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 in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest. A burden includes indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.”
That would be spiffy.
Update: The amendment was defeated. Here is an article from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.