Arkansas voters are being asked to consider two new state constitutional amendments that would impact Christians and their families. Issue 3 would promote religious freedom by keeping state and local governments from “burdening” a person’s religious freedom even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability. Issue 4 would legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

Focus on the Family joins with our Arkansas ally, Family Council, to urge Arkansas voters to vote “Yes” on Issue 3 and “No” on Issue 4.

Issue 3

Issue 3 is a constitutional version of Arkansas’ 2015 statute known as Act 975, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). It is patterned after the federal 1993 statute by the same name.

The amendment would “provide that government may never burden a person’s freedom of religion except in the rare circumstance that the government demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is in furtherance of a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling government interest.”

Such laws are necessary to guarantee Christians (and all citizens of other faiths) the right to live their lives according to their deeply held beliefs, even when local governments pass laws that promote ideologies contrary to religious faith, disguised, for example, as “nondiscrimination” ordinances and statutes. In such cases, a RFRA protects Christians and people of other faiths in situations where the First Amendment’s protections fall short.

And placing the RFRA in the state constitution ensures that religious freedom can’t be overturned by future legislatures or state judges.

In an email provided to the Daily Citizen, Jerry Cox, president of Family Council, told Arkansas voters: “Religious freedom is under attack, and Arkansas has no specific protection for religious liberty in its state constitution. Issue 3 will protect the free exercise of religion for future generations of Arkansans.”

The most recent polling on Issue 3, reported on October 23, shows the issue is very close, with 36% of Arkansas voters for the amendment, 39% opposed, and 25% still undecided.

It is crucial for concerned citizens in Arkansas to vote “Yes” on Issue 3 to protect religious freedom in their state.

Issue 4

Legalized recreational marijuana is also on the Arkansas ballot in the form of Issue 4, which would legalize possession and use of up to one ounce of marijuana for persons at least 21 years old.

Cox calls Issue 4 a “recipe for disaster.”

“Issue 4 is a misleading proposal to legalize marijuana in Arkansas,” Cox says. “It was crafted and supported by the marijuana industry. If it passes, Arkansas arguably will have the most unregulated cannabis industry of any state in America. That could bring serious crime and drug problems to Arkansas.”

Cox says Issue 4 “specifically prohibits the state from requiring criminal background checks for certain marijuana business owners. It legalizes any and all products, chemicals and derivatives made from the cannabis plant. It blocks public officials from zoning marijuana businesses or restricting marijuana use. It says point blank that state and local government cannot place additional taxes on marijuana. The amendment makes marijuana one of the least regulated industries in Arkansas.”

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is also urging his fellow citizens to oppose Issue 4 in this video. He calls it a “disastrous proposal.”

Recent polling on Issue 4 shows a decided edge (as of October 18) on the side of the pro-marijuana vote, 50.5% for, 43% against, and 6.5% undecided.

If you live in Arkansas, please vote “No” on Issue 4.

Arkansas voters can also find Family Council’s nonpartisan voter guide at this link.

No matter where you live, please get out and vote. And vote your values.


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