Religious Freedom Debates Across America And North Dakota

As most (if not all) readers of this blog know, North Dakotans will soon have an opportunity to vote on Measure 3, which seeks to pattern North Dakotan religious freedom protection after that which already exists at the national level and in 27 other states.  [As an aside, with that in mind, I hope readers are savvy enough to note that the political ad against Measure 3 involves such an extreme case of a “slippery slope” argument that it’s nearly fallen head first into a “red herring” argument.]

North Dakota is not unique.  The recent decision of the HHS has rallied many concerned religious leaders (not just Roman Catholics who oppose birth control, excepting Natural Family Planning).  Recently, prayers at commission meetings has become a source of debate and discussion in Missouri:

Colorado was pressing for an amendment similar to North Dakota’s but due to concerns for having the process itself bogged down in courts, the main backer in that state (Focus on the Family) has decided to look ahead to 2014 instead:

Florida will vote on an amendment proposal in November.  In this case, the issue is one of government funds and recipients of those funds:,_Amendment_8_%282012%29

So, in sum, North Dakota is not unique in discussing and debating this issue.  We’re part of a larger national debate.  Where is the line drawn between church and state?  How is it drawn?  What does it mean to say the government cannot establish a religion and what does it mean to claim religious freedoms are fundamental (first amendment) rights?  These are questions we are all discussing.  North Dakotans often tend to view themselves as independents but on this issue, we’re just one more cog in the wheel.  What we decide definitely affects us here, and I hope we pass Measure 3, but what we decide will also affect the national conversation to some degree (even if but a small degree).