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Senator Grant Ipsen Memorialized by NRLA

Senator Grant Ipsen Memorialized by NRLA


President’s Day, February 20, 2017, Letter from Greg Hamilton, President of the NRLA, entered into the Senate record:

Used with permission: “The Honorable Senator Grant Ipsen left the great state of Idaho a rich and profound religious freedom legacy – one in which its citizens will be forever served. During the 1999 legislative session in Idaho, Senator Grant Ipsen successfully launched and sponsored a State Religious Freedom Restoration Act that restored the “compelling state interest” and “least restrictive means” legal tests to Free Exercise Clause Jurisprudence in the State of Idaho. When religious individuals’ and institutions’ religious practices are challenged by the state, the state, and not the individual or institution, is burdened with proving in court that it has a “compelling” governmental “interest” to question, restrict or deny a particular religious practice. Greg Hamilton and the Northwest Religious Liberty Association were honored to have worked closely with Senator Ipsen to provide a pamphlet titled ‘Questions & Answers about State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts.’ The good Senator said that this pamphlet did more to help pass his bill in both chambers than anything else. Governor Dirk Kempthorne signed the bill on March 21st, 2000 and Idaho became the 13th state with a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Considering how hard it is to pass moderate and sensible State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts in today’s political climate, Senator Ipsen’s religious freedom legacy is ensconced in the Pantheon of significant religious liberty achievements in the United States of America.”

Grant Ipsen was in the Idaho Senate for 10 years. He sponsored 188 Bills. 180 are now law. 43 of those laws were co-sponsored by Democrats. He felt that the most important of those he worked on were the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Gaming, the Constitutional Convention, and the Adoption bills. The law he appreciated the most in sponsoring was Idaho’s Free Exercise of Religion Act of 2000.

David Prest, President of the Idaho Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, and Steve McPherson, retired president of the Idaho Conference and NRLA’s lobbyist at the Idaho Legislature, were present and greeted the wife and family of Senator Grant Ipsen, particularly Eddie, the wife of the Senator and his daughter Shawna Ingraham. David Prest serves on Senator Ipsen’s Stop Predatory Gambling Commission as a board member.

Senator Ipsen, a former Mormon mission president, also was the one who pulled the strings to get an Adventist Pastor to serve as Idaho’s Senate Chaplain, Pastor Jim Wibberding. Greg Hamilton and the good Senator had a good working relationship. Senator Ipsen passed away in June 2016. He is missed.

About Greg Hamilton

Greg Hamilton
Gregory W. Hamilton has served as President of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association (NRLA) for 19 years. His graduate work at the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Constitutional Studies at Baylor University culminated in the work titled "Sandra Day O'Connor's Judicial Philosophy on the Role of Religion in Public Life," which remains an original work of scholarship. The Northwest Religious Liberty Association is a nonpartisan government relations, and workplace mediation, program that champions religious freedom and human rights in the legislative, judicial, civic, academic, interfaith, ecumenical and corporate arenas, and is recognized as the premier religious liberty advocacy organization in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Greg’s abiding interest in U.S. foreign policy—specifically in U.S. international religious freedom policy—has led him to appreciate, as a pastor, how religion is a key component toward prophetically understanding how the world’s religious and political leaders seek to use religion to resolve major conflicts and bring about world peace.