Freedom of religious opinion protected in Oregon Constitution

Jeff Kruse

by Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg)

The main purpose of the Constitution is to protect the people from government

Probably the most significant event this week was the passage in the Senate of SB 132, the vaccination bill. I want to state first that I support vaccinations and I think all kids should have them. While there is some small risk, the diseases we have eliminated because of vaccinations make this small risk well worth it. I would have supported the bill except for the one significant change it made in law, which was to remove the religious exemption.

To that end we offered a minority report, which failed on a party line vote – which left us with the original bill, which in this case passed on a party line vote.

You might ask yourself why this one little bill is so significant, and the answer is the Constitution, which all Legislators swore to uphold. In my opinion the main purpose of the Constitution is really to protect the people from government. On the federal level the reason for the enumerated powers was simply to limit the authority of the federal government and leave most issues to the states. Admittedly the courts have allowed the federal reach to go far beyond what was ever intended, but the purpose in the design was quite clear.

The Oregon Constitution is also quite clear relative to the limits of government. Specifically in ARTICLE 1, BILL OF RIGHTS:

Section 3. Freedom of religious opinion. No law shall in any case whatever control the free exercise, and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.

While there are two other sections dealing with religion, this is the most relevant to this issue. To use an incredibly absurd example, if you chose to worship a rock the government can do nothing to prevent or interfere with your right. This brings us back to SB 132. By excluding the religious exemption from statute we are saying we don’t care about your religion or your beliefs, we are going to force you to comply with our requirements or jump through some arbitrary hoops, all for your own good.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions and when government does things like this which basically say we can reject a person’s beliefs because we know what’s best for you better than you do, we are trampling on our freedoms. We continue to move in the direction of government making all of our decisions for us. I am sometimes very fearful as to what our future will look like.