Well there’s still South Dakota

Check your wallets, by which I mean various rights and freedoms and capabilities. North Dakota might pass an amendment to its constitution called the Religious Liberty Restoration amendment, and you know what that means. Religious liberty to deny children medical treatment, to hit them with sticks, to say that HoMoSeckShuals are evil, to refuse to provide women with abortions or contraception even when that is your job, to teach children that genocide is good and total obedience to “God” meaning to whatever is in the bible is mandatory. It means a lot of horrible fundamentalist shit dressed up as Religious Liberty and allowed to proceed, no matter how illegal it would be in any other context.

…opponents argue the measure is both unnecessary and potentially dangerous — and could raise new ways for people to define their own extreme religious views.

Gladys Cairns, the former administrator of North Dakota Child Protective Services, says she worries that criminals will hide behind a religious cloak.

“If I were a defense attorney, I’d be making sure that my client would be doing that,” she says.

It’s not as if this never happens.


  1. raven says

    They should be careful what they wish for.

    The FLDS, the fundie polygamist Mormons have been moving into that area.

    They like remote areas where they can build their compounds and keep their women and kids from running off or learning about the real world.

    Something like the Religious Liberty act is just made for extremist religious kooks like the FLDS.

    And oh yeah, there are a lot of neo-xian and neo-pagan groups that use hallucinogenic drugs in their religious services. I’m sure they will all be very happy. IIRC, the drugs are LSD, psylocibin, peyote, ayahuasca (the rainforest vine one), and marijuana.

    It would be hilarious if North Dakota was invaded by long haired stoners seeking religious freedom to do their own thing religionwise.

  2. eric says

    Here’s the actual text:

    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.

    Raven, you know as well as I do that (1) this law will be applied unevenly and the neopagans etc. will get no benefit from it. And (2) if these sorts of Christians ever seriously get in danger of being a minority religious group in ND – or get in danger of being ordered by the courts to give neo-pagans the same rights as Christians – they’ll dump these exceptional treatment laws and go for full secularization on their way out of power. We’ve seen it time and time again; any time an extreme Christian group in power perceives that they might actually have to apply one of their religious exception laws evenhandedly to other religions, they almost always dump the exception rather than doing so. Better no holiday displays than an atheist one, and so on.

  3. Robert (SeraphymC) says

    Uh, we have a constitution that already guarantees free exercise of religion. The fact that they are pushing for a law against “burdens” on religious liberties sounds suspicious to me.

    The fact that their justification of passing this law is “to be prepared” in case a situation does arrive is BS. It’s almost never a good idea to write a “just in case” law. This is poorly hidden discrimination being codified into law.

  4. raven says

    Raven, you know as well as I do that (1) this law will be applied unevenly and the neopagans etc. will get no benefit from it.

    No we don’t.

    I’m sure they are going to hate it but in other places, neo-pagans have occasionally managed to be covered under freedom of religion laws.

    The big danger here isn’t some long haired drug using neo-pagans anyway. The FLDS polygamists already have compounds in the Dakotas and if they think it is friendly territory, they will move their by the thousands.

  5. baal says

    Sadly, the religious have done an excellent job of taking over our politics. My next Cassandra like vision of a future doom has them pushing for a “parliamentary” government which will be a de facto monarchy.

  6. raven says

    The FLDS Church is estimated to have 10,000 members residing in the sister cities of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona; Eldorado, Texas; Westcliffe, Colorado; Mancos, Colorado; Creston and Bountiful, British Columbia; and Pringle, South Dakota.[6]

    The FLDS already have a colony in South Dakota.

    At 10,000, they aren’t even most LDS polygamists which number around 60,000 split into a bunch of small cults.

    Too bad the Branch Davidians have fallen on hard times after their shootout with the feds. I’m sure they would love North Dakota.

    Really, this law just sets them up as one giant religious kook magnet. Maybe we should look on the bright side though. For the vast majority of the US population, North Dakota isn’t even a flyover state and they can have our religious loons if they want them.

  7. naturalcynic says

    North Dakota is still North Dakota. Rastafarians and such will still have winter, even if the law is on their side. And the North Dakotans know this. Keeps the riff-raff away even if they have the lowest unemployment in the country.

  8. raven says

    I just put some terms in google and it turns out there are a whole lot of neo-pagan and xian churches that use drugs as sacraments.

    They get arrested a lot. They usually use a religious freedom defense. It usually fails.

    But not always. Below is one that seems to have been successful for cannabis. I forsee the Jamaican Rastafarians moving to North Dakota en masse. I’m sure they will fit in well and be warmly welcomed.

    Entheogenic Sects and Psychedelic Religions
    R. Stuart:

    United Cannabist Ministries. Comprised of three denominations: The First Hawaiian Church of the Holy Smoke, Puna Buttah Ministry, (both found on the web at: http://www.unitedcannabistministries.org), and Religion of Jesus Church (http://www.thereligionofjesuschurch.org). The Religion of Jesus Church requires members to smoke Cannabis. The Urantia book and the Bible are its scriptures. Rev. Jonathan Adler of Hilo, Hawai’i is a 49-year-old Religion of Jesus Church minister who has smoked Cannabis since he was 17. Adler was arrested in 1998 for growing 89 Cannabis plants, each of which had a tag stating that it was for religious and medical purposes and that it was legal under Hawai’i law HRS 712-1240.1. Adler was tried in the Third Circuit Court for the commercial “manufacture of a controlled substance.” Adler is certified by the Hawai’i Department of Health to grow, possess, and use medical Cannabis. The judge sustained the prosecutor’s suppression of Rev. Adler’s medical defense as irrelevant and inadmissible as evidence. In addition to affiliation with the Hawai’i Medical Marijuana Institute & Cannabis Club, Adler also claimed a religious right to use Cannabis.

    The case ended in a mistrial.

    In 1974, Adler was ordained at the church’s divinity school in Kauai. He now heads the church’s East Hawai’i branch. As sometimes happens in drug busts, the police stole the evidence. Rev. B.Z. Evans of Children of the Mist Church in Hilo, Hawai’i — who is another advocate of sacramental Cannabis — claims that Adler’s 89 mature bud-filled plants disappeared and were replaced with scraggly little plants that collectively had under an ounce of buds.25

  9. raven says

    Ayahuasca Church Wins Legal Case

    13 Aug 2002 – Federal Court Rules in Favor of Ayahuasca-using Church … 2002), when a federal court ruled that the group’s use of ayahuasca was likely … According to the US government, ayahuasca is an illegal controlled substance in …

    The neo pagans do win once in a while.

    Ayahuasca (DMT + MOA inhibitor) is legal for some churches in the USA. And they didn’t even have to move to North Dakota.

    I don’t see North Dakota becoming the next Haight Ashbury because of this law, but it isn’t impossible either.

    I do see it becoming a giant religious kook magnet though.

  10. raven says

    These Religious Freedom Restoration Acts are apparently generic, being peddled by the christofascists in all states.

    They do seem to cover sacramental use of psychoactive drugs.

    Get ready to party down in North Dakota for anyone into that sort of thing. LOL.

    The legal status in the United States of DMT-containing plants is somewhat questionable. Ayahuasca plants and preparations are legal, as they contain no scheduled chemicals. However, brews made using DMT containing plants are illegal since DMT is a Schedule I drug. That said, some people are challenging this, using arguments similar to those used by peyotist religious sects, such as the Native American Church. A court case allowing the União do Vegetal to import and use the tea for religious purposes in the United States, Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on November 1, 2005; the decision, released February 21, 2006, allows the

    UDV to use the tea in its ceremonies pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    In a similar case an Ashland, Oregon based Santo Daime church sued for their right to import and consume ayahuasca tea. In March 2009,

    U.S. District Court Judge Panner ruled in favor of the Santo Daime, acknowledging its protection from prosecution under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.[30]

  11. Leo says

    Just one more reason to despise the state in which I was raised, I guess. I’m not sure how much of a difference this would make in the southwest corner where I’m originally from, where the population is quite conservative.

    @Raven – Don’t forget that there are quite a few natives in the area. Maybe they’ll try to use this as an excuse to do drugs off the reservations?

  12. cathyw says

    Umm – couldn’t a pretty good case be made that some suicide bombers act out of sincere religious belief? Or does that get countered by “Islam is not a religion, it’s a political system”?

  13. Leo says

    I’m also curious why the NPR article says it’s a June 12 vote. The primaries are today, so I don’t know why it’d be a separate date. My mother is a county auditor, so I’ll try to find out from her if that’s an error, but she’s probably quite busy today.

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