Effort to Refer Corporate Farming Law Kicks Off

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The North Dakota Farmers Union held a rally on the Capitol steps today in support of family farms and to kick off a campaign to refer the corporate farming law to the voters.

On Bishop David Kagan’s behalf, Monsignor Chad Gion of Spirit of Life parish in Mandan gave the opening prayer.


Important Congressional Action Alert

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYour help is needed to stop two dangerous pieces of legislation recently passed by the Council of the District of Columbia and signed by the mayor. These acts, the “Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act” (RHNDA) and the “Human Rights Amendment Act” (HRAA) are subject to disapproval by Congress.

On March 6, 2015 the DC government forwarded these laws to Congress, which has 30 legislative days to pass resolutions of disapproval; after this time other avenues might be able to block the laws’ implementation.

Please act immediately on the NCHLA Action Alert found at: nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=316

On March 20, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington along with the chairmen of five committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops sent letters to the House and Senate urging Congress to block RHNDA and HRAA. For the text of the US bishops’ letter see www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/ADW-USCCB-letter-DC-bills-3-20-15.pdf

Rally for Family Farms

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In response to passage of the corporate farming bill, a rally will be held 2 PM this Friday on the steps of the Capitol.  Bishop David Kagan is scheduled to give the opening prayer.
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The “Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Bill” is not about sexual orientation discrimination.

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1280px-2009-0521-ND-StateCapitolThe state House is considering SB 2279, often called the “sexual orientation non-discrimination” bill.  A vocal campaign in favor of the bill has tried to make the bill a referendum on how a person feels about sexual orientation discrimination.  According to them, if discrimination based on sexual orientation is “bad,” you must support the bill.  Opposing the bill, to them, means that you endorse such discrimination.

The truth is that the bill is not about how one feels about sexual orientation.  The truth is that the bill gives special legal protection – the right to sue – based on an individual’s sexual-related acts.

In addition, the bill is a direct attack – some would say a right to harass – on individuals and organizations with sincere religious beliefs about those sexual acts.

For more information, see the testimony of the conference against SB 2279.

Conference Testifies in Support of Human Trafficking Bill, Explains Amendment

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Photo from Bismarck Tribune

Christopher Dodson, the Executive Director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, told the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday that Senate Bill 2107 would serve as the “mainframe” of the state’s efforts to combat human trafficking.  Human trafficking, he reminded the committee, violates the dignity of the human person and is a crime against humanity.

Dodson provided clarifications about language added to the bill by the Senate that prevents tax dollars appropriated to help victims of trafficking from being used to refer women for abortions.  The purpose of the amendment, which was proposed by the North Dakota Catholic Conference, was to “prevent controversies about abortion and tax dollars rather than inserting them into the discussion on human trafficking.”

“The language in SB 2107 is preventive. By securing the status quo it takes the abortion issue “off the table” and allows for the bill’s passage and implementation,” said Dodson.

In addition to his written testimony, Dodson provided information to assist the committee on the bill’s “safe harbor” provision.  The provision provides immunity to minors from charges of prostitution.  The purpose of the amendment is to make victims more comfortable when it comes to working with law enforcement and help secure evidence against traffickers.  Some feel, however, that immunity will prevent victims from accessing the services available in the juvenile justice system.

Dodson stated that whether the safe harbor provision is the best policy is a matter of prudential judgment, but that the conference is comfortable with the provision partly because most ethicists and the law take the position that a minor cannot truly consent to sexual acts.

The conference’s testimony in support of SB 2107 is here: http://ndcatholic.org/testimony2015/sb2107house201/index.html

Wisdom from Chesterton

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10922573_951274338217325_1010080958849005941_oThis photo from Catholic Rural Life’s Facebook page says a lot. Be sure to ask your representatives to vote No on SB 2351.


Inclusion Act Receives Strong Support from Three USCCB Chairmen

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girlThree chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gave strong support for the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2015. The Act would forbid the federal government, and any state receiving federal funds for child welfare services, from taking adverse action against a provider that, for religious or moral reasons, declines to provide a child welfare social service.

“Our first and most cherished freedom, religious liberty, is to be enjoyed by all Americans, including child welfare providers who serve the needs of children – the most vulnerable members of society,” wrote Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; and Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; in letters of support to Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) in the U.S. House of Representatives and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) in the U.S. Senate, who introduced the bill.
Highlighting the inclusivity of the legislation, the chairmen noted, “Rightly, the Inclusion Act protects the religious liberties and moral convictions of all child welfare providers. No providers are excluded by the Act.”
Some religious child welfare providers, including in Massachusetts, Illinois, California, and the District of Columbia, have been excluded from carrying out adoption and foster care services because the providers act on their belief that children deserve to be placed with a married mother and father. The chairmen said, “The Inclusion Act would remedy this unjust discrimination by enabling all providers to serve the needs of parents and children in a manner consistent with the providers’ religious beliefs and moral convictions.”
Stressing that the Inclusion Act respects the importance of parental choice, the chairmen remarked, “Indeed, women and men who want to place their children for adoption ought to be able to choose from a diversity of adoption agencies, including those that share the parents’ religious beliefs and moral convictions.”

The letters of support are available online at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/Ltr-to-Rep-Kelly-Inclusion-Act-2015.pdfhttp://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/Ltr-to-Sen-Enzi-Inclusion-Act-2015.pdf

Confusion About Private and Religious Schools in ESEA Reauthorization

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cathschThe U.S. House of Representatives is working on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  Recently an erroneous blog post generated confusion and fear that the bill would threaten religious nonpublic schools.

The USCCB Secretariat of Education wants Catholics to know that the claims are not true.  Go here to find out more about it and what you can do to help.

Human Trafficking Bills Up Next Week

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The House Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the bills related to human trafficking and prostitution.  The North Dakota Catholic Conference supports all these bills.

03/17/2015 09:00 AM
SB 2199
appropriation to the attorney general for a human trafficking victims treatment and support services pilot project

03/17/2015 10:30 AM
SB 2275
Relating to a forced or coerced abortion performed on a victim of human trafficking
House Human Services
Fort Union Room

03/18/2015 09:00 AM
SB 2107
Relating to the Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking;

This bill includes language preserving the state policy of not funding referrals for abortions.  Abortion advocates want to remove the language and use tax dollars for abortion referrals. Contact the House Judiciary members and urge them to vote NO on any amendment to remove the “No tax dollars for abortion referrals” provision. Read more about the provision here.

03/18/2015 10:00 AM
SB 2232
Relating to the statute of limitations for the crime of human trafficking.

03/18/2015 10:20 AM
SB 2250
Relating to facilitating prostitution.

03/18/2015 10:30 AM
HB 1347
Relating to the inclusion of human trafficking in the definition of disorderly conduct and the definition of a deprived child.

03/18/2015 10:45 AM
SB 2266
Relating to the use of minors in sexual performances

03/18/2015 11:00 AM
SB 2332
Relating to an offender education program; to amend and reenact section 12.1-29-06 of the North Dakota Century Code, relating to hiring an individual to engage in sexual activity.

Still Time to Contact Representatives on Corporate Farming Bill

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Sts. Isidore and Maria, patrons of family farmers

Sts. Isidore and Maria, patrons of family farmers

Catholic leaders have long called for an agricultural system that preserves and maintains farm ownership and control in the hands of local family farmers. Although well-intentioned by some, SB 2351 fails to meet this criteria, which is why the North Dakota Catholic Conference opposes the bill.

Catholic Rural Life, the U.S. Catholic Church’s rural life voice, recently looked at SB 2351 and wrote:

SB 2351 also threatens the viability of small family farms by unfairly stacking the agricultural market in favor of larger, corporate operations. It undermines the idea of farming as a vocation, a way of life, and reduces it solely to utilitarian endeavor, detached from the human element. This cannot be squared with Catholic teaching, for as Pope Francis recently put it, farming is “characteristically and fundamentally human.”

 Read the rest of the letter . . .

The bill was expected to be voted on today, March 13, but it was rereferred to committee for some further amendments. The amendments do not resolve the fundamental problems with the bill. A vote is expected Monday or Tuesday.
Please contact your representatives now and urge them to protect family farms and vote against SB 2351.
Message:  Please vote NO on SB 2351.
Who: House Representatives
When: Now.
Related information: