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Published May 03, 2012, 10:08 PM

Measure 3 Stirs Up Debate

GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - A religious freedom ballot measure has stirred up some controversy on what it exactly means. Measure 3 is similar to the 1st Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, but the issue is many believe it can be interpreted differently.

GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - A religious freedom ballot measure has stirred up some controversy on what it exactly means.

Measure 3 is similar to the 1st Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, but the issue is many believe it can be interpreted differently.

Measure 3 really hasn't brought up the type of debate like Measure 2 or Measure 4. And it's possible that people just don't really understand its wording.

"Unfortunately it's really poorly worded," attorney Connie Triplett said.

"If you read the measure itself it's very straight forward. It's only three sentences," said Ron Fischer, who supports Measure 3.

And that's the debate, in a nutshell. Some people think it means one thing, and others another.

"Your understanding of it might be different than my understanding of it," said Curt Kreun, a city council member.

The measure would add a new section to Article 1 of the North Dakota constitution, saying, "the government may not burden a person's or religious organization's religious liberty."

The measure goes on and says, "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.”

"Very simply says that you have the right to worship free with however your beliefs are but also to practice those beliefs," said Fischer.

Some say it leaves room for people to use religious freedom as an excuse to commit acts of domestic violence.

"That's part of the problem," said Kreun.

"The extra burden should not be on the state to prove that it has a right to protect small children," said Triplett.

But those in favor of the measure, say government is expected to intervene if such a situation came up.

"That's a false argument quite frankly, and its a scare tactic," said Fischer.

No matter how people wish it were worded, the way it is now is the way it will be on the ballot.

"This could be more confusing and cause more problems than what it helps," said Kreun.

Either way its interpreted, people agree that the writers of the measure didn't mean to put the people of North Dakota in harm's way.

"I think the people have good intentions--very good intentions," said Kreun.

Measure 3 will be voted on June 12th.

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