North Carolina getting a state religion? No.
North Carolina legistators are fighting over a church and state issue.
April 4th, 2013
02:06 PM ET

North Carolina getting a state religion? No.

By Eric Marrapodi and John Blake, CNN

(CNN)– Politicians often declare that the U.S. is a Christian nation, but a group of representatives in North Carolina wants to add a new wrinkle to that argument.

They want North Carolina to be able to make its own laws establishing religion.

Two Republican representatives in North Carolina filed a resolution Monday that would permit the state to declare Christianity its official religion and reject any federal laws or court rulings regarding how the state addresses the establishment of religion.

Critics say the resolution violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee that government will not prefer one religion over another. But a supporter of the resolution said it is about protecting another freedom.

The resolution reads in part, "The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize Federal court rulings which prevent the state, its public schools, or any political subdivisions in the state from making laws respecting the establishment of religion."

Rep. Carl Ford, the resolution’s co-sponsor, told the Salisbury Post the resolution's intent is to support county commissioners in Rowan, North Carolina, who routinely end their invocations at public meetings with "In Jesus' name, amen."

A Rowan County resident filed a lawsuit against the county in March saying that she was not a Christian and that evoking Jesus in a public meeting sends the message that county commissioners favor Christians.

“We’re not starting a church. We’re not starting a religion. We’re supporting the county commissioners in their freedom of speech,” Ford told the Post.

Ford did not respond to interview requests.

By Thursday afternoon, the resolution was dead.

Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, said, "the bill that is getting so much attention is not going to move. It's dead."

Shaw said it would probably be referred to committee but would not come before the legislative body for a vote.

When asked why it was not moving forward, Shaw said the legislation did not accomplish what the legislators who had submitted the resolution had hoped for it.

Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based organization that aims to protect religious liberty, said Ford's argument is “phony.”

“That’s quite a bizarre argument,” Lynn said. “They’re trying to say that the state of North Carolina has the right to trump the U.S. Constitution, that we have the right to decide what religion gets preferential religion in our state.”

David Graham, an associate editor for The Atlantic Monthly, said the North Carolina resolution signals the revival of the states' rights “nullification” theory: a legal argument invoked as far back as the 19th century that claims states have the right to void, or nullify, federal laws they oppose.

During President Obama’s presidency, conservatives have claimed that states could ignore duly passed federal laws dealing with health care and gun control, Graham wrote in a blog post for The Atlantic.

Courts don’t buy the nullification theory, Graham said.

“Nullification has repeatedly been ruled to be incorrect,” he said. “States don’t have the right to invalidate federal laws.”

The nullification theory won’t die, though, because it serves a purpose, Graham said.

“It’s good politics for the people proposing it,” he said. “If people are upset that the federal government is keeping them from praying at a City Council meeting or changing the way they get health insurance, a politician can say, 'This is wrong and I’m going to take a stand.' ”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Courts

« Previous entry
soundoff (2,110 Responses)
  1. Science

    Free speech helps educate the masses

    Gravity is not up for debate !

    BY the way ...................Splat goes a fairy in the sky !...............bye bye tinker bell !

    Einstein's Gravity Theory Passes Toughest Test Yet

    Apr. 25, 2013 — A strange stellar pair nearly 7,000 light-years from Earth has provided physicists with a unique cosmic laboratory for studying the nature of gravity. The extremely strong gravity of a massive neutron star in orbit with a companion white dwarf star puts competing theories of gravity to a test more stringent than any available before


    Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

    The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

    The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

    Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.


    April 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |

    May 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |

    Dinosaur Egg Study Supports Evolutionary Link Between Birds and Dinosaurs: How Troodon Likely Hatched Its Young


    And NO ANGELS the pope KICKED them OFF the TEAM last year !

    From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life


    May 3, 2013 at 8:54 am |
  2. Lyman Braunstein

    Divorce causes major issues with health insurance benefits. Many families have employer provided and/or paid for health insurance benefits that cover the entire family. It is not uncommon to see situations where the other spouse is a stay at home parent, with absolutely no access to health insurance benefits, or employed at a job with either no health insurance benefits available or those benefits available at a substantial cost. After a divorce, the spouse with the family health insurance coverage can no longer cover the other parent. They are no longer “family” members who can take advantage of one health insurance policy. How to then ensure that everyone stays insured does become an issue for negotiation and/or divorce litigation."-

    Most current write-up on our own blog

    May 2, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  3. read review

    Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic but I'd figured I'd ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing a blog article or vice-versa? My blog discusses a lot of the same subjects as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other. If you are interested feel free to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Superb blog by the way!

    May 1, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  4. Archie Esther

    There are three main myths about the creation of the brownie. The first, that a chef accidentally added melted chocolate to biscuit dough. The second, a cook forgot to add flour to the batter. And thirdly, the most popular belief, that a housewife did not have baking powder and improvised with this new treat. It was said that she was baking for guests and decided to serve these flattened cakes to them. This became our beloved treat of today. Whatever may be the case; all three myths have gained popularity throughout the years due to its mysterious beginnings...

    Check ya later

    April 22, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
  5. Science

    Politicians............................... BETTER KNOW THIS !!!

    Does the RCC have any ? .............politicians too ?

    Where do morals come from?

    By Kelly Murray, CNN


    Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

    Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

    Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
    bears his name as the “God particle.”


    Pope praises science, but insists God created world updated Thur October 28, 2010
    Stephen Hawking is wrong, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday – God did create the universe. The pope didn't actually mention the world-famous scientist, who argues in a book published last month that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme... \



    Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
    By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...


    April 7th, 2012

    08:32 PM ET

    The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth


    A wedge !

    April 14, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  6. Nathan C. Walker

    Eric and John, thanks for the article. NC disestablished the Church of England as its colonial state religion in 1776, fifteen years before the states ratified the U.S. Bill of Rights. Ironically, North Carolina was far more progressive in its disestablishment of religion than Congress. Cheers, Nate


    April 13, 2013 at 10:57 am |
  7. CommonSense

    No, states can't create "State Religion". But if the religious fanatical right want to see an example of that, they can look at Saudia Arabia and the other fundamentalist religious dictatorships. Looks good to you sadistic dimwits, right?
    No, this is just the republicans acting like fools again.

    April 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  8. dustball

    A wonderful day today. I would like to thank the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for all he's done for us, even if not everyone is thanking him, please accept my thanks. And thank you for sending Jesus to die and raise again for our sins. You're the best. Ever.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • 404 Error

      Message not deliverable. Ent'ity unlocatable.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • dustball

      God has no trouble being there. He's the most fantastic being, supreme, almighty, there aren't words sufficient to describe him. I'm in awe of my lack of ability to adequately describe him. It's a mental overload to try.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Gene

      Thank your big guy in the sky for my cancer for me, will ya. What a champ. I mean chump.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Roth

      Wouldn't that suggest getting to know God sooner?

      April 9, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Science

      Hey dustball you might want to read this.................

      Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

      Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
      bears his name as the “God particle.”


      Maybe they should not have created the wedge !!!
      The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Insti-tute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Insti-tute manifesto known as the Wedge Docu-ment,[1] which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to defeat materialism, naturalism, evolution, and "reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic


      April 12, 2013 at 7:11 am |
    • Pole dancing for Jesus

      dustball, Do you have any evidence of a god?

      April 12, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • Evidence

      is in the bible. But it is a secret. The key is to believe God first, then read it.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:24 am |
      • Clarence

        How can you believe in something before you try to prove it either exists or does not? That would be like saying you have to say a person is guilty in court before reviewing the evidence. Apply logic... If your pitch is "you got to beleive before you read our book", you need to rethink your sales plan. You won't meet your quota if not.

        July 31, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • Pole dancing for Jesus

      No that's faith. Where's the evidence?

      April 12, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • Evidence is in the bible

      and that is the truth.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:33 am |
    • Pole dancing for Jesus

      Yes that (your reliance on faith) is the truth. Where's the evidence? Do you have that much faith when you purchase property? If so I have some beach property in Utah to sell. Very reasonable.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • Evidence is in the bible

      How can you be for Jesus if you do not believe the bible is the truth?

      April 12, 2013 at 7:44 am |
      • Clarence

        Jesus' message has been warped and changed so much, what Jesus really stood for is not taught in church. He was against big government. He wanted you to love and respect your fellow man. You are NOT supposed to judge and condemn anyone... This is the message of Jesus IN the bible... You shouldn't force your beliefs on others as absolute law. There are no two people in the world that beleive the absolute same thing. "There are as many religions as there are individuals" – Gandhi

        Jesus' message has very good principles when you take away the hoo doo. If "christians" stuck to his true message, we would not have as much hate in this world. There would be understanding, less @$$ backwards laws, etc. Read your "evidence" with an open mind. You might actually learn something valuable.

        July 31, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Pole dancing for Jesus

      Like the bible it is misleading in order to control the gullible.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:46 am |
    • Evidence is in the bible

      I say that I believe God, because I enjoy it. It is happiness and joy to me. You fell into my trap.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • Science

      And no god(s) required to graduate in public shcools in US

      Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.

      Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.


      April 12, 2013 at 8:01 am |
  9. clarity

    The Establishment clause of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution has been under attack since it was first adopted. Thanks to its brilliant designers, it has stood the test of time and continues to do so. In order to afford every citizen the right to believe in whatever they so choose, the key framers of the U.S. government knew they had to keep religion away from government as much as possible. This was not some new idea that just popped into their heads. People were fighting over religious differences in framers' home states – Madison's advocacy for separation of church and state began long before he was charged with drafting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    Many are familiar with Thomas Jefferson's "wall of separation" reference:

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.

    (from a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut)

    But what was Madison's reflections on his handiwork in the Constitution and 1st Amendment? These quotes are from two Madison letters later in life:

    Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

    The Civil Govt, tho' bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.

    (from letters to Edward Livingston and Robert Walsh)

    Madison as president vetoed two bills that he believed would violate the separation of church and state. He also came to oppose the long-established practice of employing chaplains at public expense in the House of Representatives and Senate on the grounds that it violated the separation of church and state and the principles of religious freedom. (See Library of Congress – James Madison Papers – Detached memorandum, ca. 1823.)

    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;

    (from the Treaty of Tripoli signed by President John Adams and with unanimous ratification of the U.S. Senate, 1797)

    April 8, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • His panic

      They were fat people too?

      April 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Science

      His panic They are working on the gut ..................................no god(s) required for this part of the state ?

      Adult Stem Cells Isolated from Human Intestinal Tissue

      Apr. 4, 2013 — For the first time, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have isolated adult stem cells from human intestinal tissue.


      April 9, 2013 at 6:41 am |
    • Science

      His Panic ........................soon.........................ethics will beat it up maybe ?

      The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

      Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.


      April 9, 2013 at 7:00 am |
    • lol??

      The A&A's sure did know how to transform the gubmint into a Beast church. Now pay your fair share of ti*thes. Servants ain't cheap these days...

      April 9, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • the real Tom

      Did you finally sober up and figure out that ministers can indeed reach out to their parishioners and suggest they get therapy, loopy?

      April 9, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  10. Rainer Braendlein

    Let us mind a little what a state actually is.

    Imagine an completely empty earth without human beings. Suddenly ten naked men would emerge, and would ask themselves how they could survive because they had no food, no cloths, no houses, no transport means, nothing at all.

    First, they would agree to make some cloths, built some cottages, and to collect some fruits, for the sake of their needs because nobody can endure the cold of the night without clothes and shelter, and nobody can endure hunger and thirst for a longer time.

    After a while of extremly hard struggle the ten men would realize that everybody of them had special gifts, and thus various professions would emerge: carpenter, bricklayer, taylor, farmer, bootmaker, cleaner, baker, butcher, hunter, etc..

    They would supply eachother with the products and sevices which they would daily need. Nearly everthing would be okay as long as there would be a balance of give and take.

    However, it could happen that after a while Charly, the butcher, becomes lazy, and tells the other nine the following: "John give me my bread today, I will give you some sausages next week"; "Freddy repair my shoes today, I will give you some sausages next week"; etc.. Charly runs up debts, and the others will even tolerate that as long as Charly delivers his sausages at the promised time. Yet, when Charly would delay his deliveries further more the other nine men would gather, and discuss what to do with Charly, who has become lazy. This is what we call debt crisis.

    Another problem could emerge, when one of them would become greedy, and disturb the balance by that. For instance, Johnny would decide to make bread and sausages. This would mean that less of Charly's sausages would be needed, and he would get less of the other produced goods; worst case he could "sell" no more sausages, and hence would be excluded from the little economy. This is what we call economical concentration.

    Or one of them could simply become a thief who presumes to take the things of the others without any counterperformance; also this would cause a quick council of the 9 other men.

    Thousands of issues are imagineabel which could disturb our little society. Therefore they may elcect a major or a governer who is concerned about such issues. Sometimes they would gather on a council in order to make laws according to which the maior has to judge the wrongdoers.

    It could even happen that through pefect law and action of the governer the little state would work, and there would be a balance. Everybody would produce goods according to his capablilities, and everybody could consume accoring to the measure of his performance.

    Yet, in the evening, after work, nobody would see any reason to visit his neighbour. After a day of exchanging goods and services people go home being no more interested in each other, maybe being even sad that they culd not gain more proft on cost of their neighbours because of the law and the governer.

    This shows us that the state is only an emergency facility but not the perfect state of mankind. People need something which makes them loving each other and having community independent from exchanging goods and services. This community is the Christian Church or the City of God, how Augustine called it. Simply God's lifegiving presence makes people loving each other, a thing which the normal state could never deliver.

    Lonelyness is a kind of death. This death can only be overcome through God who is community, life, love and light in himself. Jesus is the life and the resurrection.

    It is only that many people have to undergo a very long process until they grasp the gospel of Jesus Christ, and become members of the Churchs, God's state, and especially for them the ordinary state is very important because the state preserves their lifes until they become faithful at last. Of course, if someone hesitates too much, he may have to face judgement by God.

    The ordinary society contains people which will once become believers, and the church contains also false believers. Therefore the state shoud be neutral. If a church would be prefered it could happen that especially the false believers of that church would use this to persue their evil plans.

    Furthermore nobody on earth can change the heart of a human being. The state must imply that God may change one's heart once but up to this time the individual has deserved love and righteousness, no matter if it is a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu, or any other adherent of any false belief.

    April 8, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • Science

      Visit this thread you might find the answer


      Have a great day

      April 8, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Donna

      What gets me is that Christians like Rainer here say stuff like this all the time, and then act all innocent when we point out just how offensive it is to nonChristians, and plenty of Christians, alike. Truly amazing!

      April 8, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein


      I only wanted to express that even somebody who favours Christianity can also favour a neutral state. It is almost desireable from the Christian stance that the state is neutral.

      Roman Catholic clergies have molested children for many years, and I believe that the authorities knew that but they did not intervene possibly because they hesitated to attack such an old, honerable church like the RCC.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • Donna

      Rainer Braendlein
      Elected officials shied away from investigating the child abuse because it wasn't politically wise to challenge the RCC back then. Too many Catholics would rather pretend that the abuse wasn't there than give ammunition to their protestant rivals.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Science

      Hey RB ...............you smater than a 5t grader ?

      Listening to the Big Bang - In High Fidelity

      Apr. 4, 2013 — A decade ago, spurred by a question for a fifth-grade science project, University of Washington physicist John Cramer devised an audio recreation of the Big Bang that started our universe nearly 14 billion years ago.


      April 8, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Once the Catholic Church persecuted the Calvinists of France, and later the Calvinists persecuted the Lutherans of Pruzzia (according to Frederic the Great).

      The issue is that even a Christian can commit crimes, and furthermore there are always people which call themselves Christians but they are not real Christians. A real Christian would never persecute somebody of another faith, that is always a crime which should be punished by the state. The only legitimate weapon of a true Christian is the telling of the true doctrine. Nobody can be forced to accept the doctrine of the Early Church which we find in the Bible.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Akira

      If someone doesn't understand how the US works politically, no matter how many words they use to post, it's moot.
      Separation of Chruch and State. Period.

      April 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "People need something which makes them loving each other and having community independent from exchanging goods and services. This community is the Christian Church or the City of God, how Augustine called it."

      You appear to assume that people have never loved one another except in a Christian state. I recommend travel and a lot of reading to catch up with world realities.

      April 8, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
  11. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    By the laws of the federal government (Consti-tution's Commerce Clause) , marijuana is an illegal drug. The citizens of Colorado and Washington State disagree and have made marijuana legal so one assumes that states still have a lot of power.

    Making Christianity the religion of NC is analogous to having a state bird or flower. Nice but so what?

    April 8, 2013 at 7:13 am |
    • Saraswati

      The states don't have the power to legalize marijuana, only to get away with it.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • Bostontola

      Federal agents can still arrest you for illegal substances even if legal in the state. The commerce clause defines state's and federal roles for interstate and international commerce.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Reality

      "Seattle expects legalized marijuana use to become major tourist draw

      Apr 07, 2013

      SEATTLE, Wash. – If you think 2013 will be a half-baked year for tourism in Seattle, you haven't been paying attention to the curiously pungent smoke signals emanating from this city.

      On a recent chilly evening, an unmistakable smell has drifted across the street from an industrial space in the SODO neighborhood. Inside, a DJ spins an eclectic mix of rock while a man in a tie-dyed hoodie distributes cannabis-infused buttered rum and root beer-flavored hard candy to a diverse crowd of revelers. Another volunteer passes around a 12-foot-long "vape bag" filled with marijuana vapor - one way to get around the city's indoor smoking ban."

      April 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • formerjewnowwiccan

      The difference is that anyone who is not Christian can be forced to leave the state because they are not Christian. That include Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, Druid, Sufi, Hindu, etc. When the colonies were first established here, each colony had its specific version of Christianity, and if you didn't worship that, you were not allowed to. The only colony that didn't do this was Rhode Island. they had freedom of religion.

      April 17, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  12. Austin

    sam stone
    austin: you evaded my question about free will in the same evasive manner that gopher has. are you a coward, too?

    April 7, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |

    Sam, where was this question posted?

    April 7, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • sam stone

      it was posted saturday and i believe sunday.

      now that you are congnzent of it,

      answer how an omniscient (knowing all that will ever happen) and free will are compatible.

      don't slither off. answer the question

      April 8, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Rick

      Also, if I might add, how a God who directly reveals himself to only a chosen few, such as himself, isn't interfering in free will?

      April 8, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • sam stone

      what a surprise, austin doesn't respond.

      April 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  13. Bostontola

    "Some definitions:
    free will is the ability of agents to make choices unconstrained by certain factors"

    Is that was passes as an unambiguous definition for you? Swiss cheese.

    April 7, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      ".....put some factors are okay"

      April 7, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  14. His panic

    Their State is really a State of total Panic.

    April 7, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
« Previous entry
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.