Faith leaders understand Measure 1, say ‘no!’- Fargo Forum letter to the Editor

faithBy: The Rev. Cody Schuler with The Gathering (United Methodist), Fargo. Also signing this commentary: the Rev. Sue Koesterman, Elim Lutheran, Fargo; the Rev. Adam Copeland, Presbyterian Church (USA); Rabbi Janeen Kobrinsky, Beth El Temple, Fargo; the Rev. Dr. Kevin Cassiday-Maloney – pastor, First Congregational UCC, Fargo; the Rev. Jo Cassiday-Maloney – Area Conference Minister, Northern Plains Conference UCC; the Rev. Grace Murray, Plymouth Congregational UCC, Fargo; the Rev. David Hartson, UCC, Valley City; the Rev. Kristina Waters, Mayville UCC and The Project F-M in Fargo; Mark Sinner, Social Justice Council, Fargo Moorhead Unitarian Universalist Church.

As printed in the Fargo Forum, September 28, 2014

The Forum ran a commentary Sept. 20 in which the author asked, “Why won’t more pastors stand up, clear the air, and support what is right and moral?” We couldn’t agree more. This is why we local faith leaders are speaking out against Measure 1.

Measure 1 would permanently add a single vague sentence to the North Dakota Constitution that says we must protect life at every stage of development. Proponents of Measure 1 say it’s not a law. But the constitution trumps statutes. The measure would create a new lens in which we look at all laws, from those on murder to advance directives.

As clergy and lay leaders, we are concerned Measure 1 could create difficulties for doctors and families making end-of-life decisions. An individual could say that removing life support isn’t compatible with “protecting life,” as mandated by the measure, and prevent someone’s wishes from being followed.

All of us have sat with families as they make these deeply personal decisions. It saddens us to think a person’s ability to die with dignity may be affected.

We are also worried that Measure 1 could affect organ donation. While it is tragic when a person is called home due to an accident, many help save other lives through the gift of organ donations. But if the family “must” protect that life through continued medical treatment instead of letting them go gracefully, organ donation could be limited.

Measure 1 would make one religious view into law: that abortion must be banned without exception. While our group holds views on abortion that fall across a spectrum, we all are troubled about the fact there are no exceptions for victims of rape and incest or to save the life of the mother.

As faith leaders, we believe our constitution must be written to work for all beliefs, not one religion – especially as the state becomes more diverse. Faith leaders, like North Dakotans, are not all of one mind.

The writer in The Forum said many pastors just can’t seem to find their voices. Let our voice ring loud and clear: We are voting “no” on Measure 1. People of faith can be and are against this measure.