Religious Minorities Have Most to Lose if Measure 3 Fails

Religious minorities in North Dakota have the most to lose if Measure 3 fails.  Indeed, Measure 3 will be, in part, a test of whether North Dakota is truly resilient enough to defend the religious convictions of both majority faiths and minority faiths.  The majority faiths, such as Roman Catholics and Protestants have their convictions on the line to the degree that they may wish to continue operating various charities and organizations without undue interference from the government.  North Dakotans of minority faiths have even more on the line, however.  Take the example of Orthodox Christianity.  Orthodox Christianity, though Christian, and even demonstrating a direct lineage and connection to the Apostles themselves, is neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant (both of whom split from Orthodoxy–the Roman Church first and then the Protestants from Rome).  In America, there are not very many Orthodox (though a quarter of us were formerly something else, we are still quite small).  Measure 3 could help ensure our freedom to observe our practices and holidays.  For example, on most years, Pascha (“Easter”) is on a different Sunday for us than it is for Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians.  This has to do with Orthodoxy continuing to base the date of Pascha/Easter off the Jewish lunar calendar (which is how Jews determine Passover).

This is important because it shows that we Orthodox more closely resemble the case of the Native Americans using Peyote back in 1990 than Catholics or Lutherans would.  We, too, have something “different” about our observances that might cause a work-place tension.  In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled that a business could take precedent over established, legitimate religious practices of its employees.  In response to this, Congress passed the bi-partisan Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  Of course, we then learned that applied only at the federal level.  So, now if people want religious freedom to be maintained as a fundamental legal right, we need to protect it state by state.  For anyone holding to an established, legitimate, but minority faith, Measure 3 is important.  Opponents have been using “logic” that would get them failing marks on college papers (at least in my class) in the name of protecting some people (women and children).  Women and children should be protected.  Under our laws, they are, and the government has a clear and compelling interest ALREADY WELL ESTABLISHED!  Measure 3 does not undo that.  Thinking so is the slippery slope argument to the point of sliding into red herring.  There are not problems with this at the federal level.  There are not problems with this in the 27 other states that have similar amendments.  There are potential problems for religious minorities without such protection, and history demonstrates this (from the Native Americans in Washington State in 1990 to our own Orthodox history earlier in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries).  If you want to protect a class of people, vote “yes” on Measure 3.