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

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soundoff (2,110 Responses)
  1. Wes Scott

    It would appear that North Carolina is trying to out South Carolina South Carolina. Beam me up, Scottie.There is no intelligent life in the Carolinas!

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

      South Carolinians must love it every time NC pulls this stuff.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  2. oberserver

    I recently had to do jury duty in NC and the made us took an oath on the bible. I thought is was odd, the clerk did not even asked if anyone would like to use another religious text or refrain from taking the oath with the bible.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • snowboarder

      i have had jury duty on many occasions and have never been asked to swear an oath on the bible. what century did you serve?

      April 4, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • breathe deep

      You had every right to decline.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
  3. Ed

    Religion is a business. It is a cult. As such is irrelevant in our lives.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Allahu Snackbar

      It will be irrelevant when the evangelists stop trying to force us to live by their beliefs.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  4. Rob

    This law will lead to bestiality.......

    April 4, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • snowboarder


      April 4, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Shi!tiswati

      Monkeying from one topic to another just proves how versatile I am with the questions I ask. Can't help that I am so smarmy.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  5. Rich

    Welp here we go....knew this kind of rhetoric was just around the corner.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • Shi!tiswati

      Where are those statements? You owe me the 23 list.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
  6. Allahu Snackbar

    We need some politicians with the audacity to file bills proclaiming Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Wicca, Satanism, and whatever else they can think of as state religions. Then sit back and listen to the squealing. It might help to make the point the that first amendment is there to protect EVERYONE, Christians included.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • snowboarder

      protection is literally the oldest relgious scam in the book.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  7. Fred Evil

    Riling up rednecks.....nothing new here.
    Ignorance dies a hard death.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
  8. Kelcy

    So essentially NC wants to be the first state to secede from the Union this time. Sure. Let them go. Let them become a christian only nation and watch as the Triangle becomes a ghost town as all the federal money dries up since, hey....they won`t be part of the United States of America.......just another little country to negotiate trade agreements with, passport requirements (as a new nation I would not give them the same passport courtesy we have with Canada and Mexico), no more support and assistance following hurricanes although I am sure we can send the same degree of support we give to places like Haiti, etc and so forth. They will be the taliban of christianity. I can see loads of Americans renouncing their citizenship to flock there. It will really help reduce the national debt.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • Shi!tiswati

      Where do you get those figures from. Your waist? The national debt is lower than the collective fat content in your waist and body. In other words, the mass is directly proportional to the brain weight. See how smart I am. I graduated from a top school in Pakistan.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      (more lol?? garbage – guess sara must have rubbed him the wrong way – lol)

      April 4, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      (Sh!t.... impersonating saraswati)

      April 4, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  9. Kim Jung Un

    I do not care. Yu americans have not surrender and let me to be you Supreme Leader. Then I'll send 500,000 parachutists, 200,000 higly train Special Forces and 1,000,000 infantry man 10,000 tanks. Yu will be so sorry. Will take Hawai, Alaska, then California, then go over rocky mountain, crossing the Missisipi river on to North Karolina then take over your Capital. Obomo will shine my shoes. We like blondes and redheads girls for my soldiers. The fat woman will use to scrub the floor and all dirty jobs. Only pretty blondes and redneck girls for all my faithfull soldiers.
    Yu will be sorry yu did not surrender. I will be Supreme Leader and one star in yur flag, our star. yu will be so sorry.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Shi!tiswati

      Here we are flustered and worried about the Carolina's and their religion and you are bringing up a trivial issue. Are you dumb? Smart people like me have degrees from around the world Asia, ok granted not North Korea , but from Pakistan. You don't the point of this article? My head has been spinning since it was posted.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • Kim Jung Un

      Yur degree not worth $h1t, when my parachutist troops take yu captive yu will go pick up produce in farm and clean the pork Sh1t. only faithful athestic will be in goverment in yur capital. fat women not pretty for my soldiers. 500,000 in parachutes in California. Too late for surrender a sea of fire is next for yu all.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Kim Jung Un

      All everyone evrybody in west coast Alaska, Hawai, California are wetting pants for fear of my glorius army. Yu will be totally defeated. Rockets are ready, Hawai will be ours, then Alaska, then California, then misisipi river crossing. Obomo will shine my boots. all blondys, redneck girls who are pretty for my valiant faithfull soldiers. all fat women not pretty for my soldiers, will scrub floor and clean the barn shower the pork. all nasty jobs, work in farms and factories, clean streets.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Quest ion

      What in the world? :-O

      April 4, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
  10. Jt_flyer

    Thomas Jefferson is rolling over in his grave.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Shi!tiswati

      Let's give him a hug, from you and I.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      James Madison too. Stuff it, Sh!t.... I guess saraswati really got to you this time.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Shi!tiswati

      Keep chanting my name it may help with that bowel movement.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
  11. The pope

    Ah, yes, Christians. The people who took Christ out of Christianity.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Shi!tiswati

      I got a better one for you from my Buddha. I love your but not your christians. See how smart I am, I can make you look dumb easily. Come argue with me , I will drive you up that wall. Watch out!

      April 4, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  12. LouAZ

    The Religious Right is neither.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • Hiram57


      April 4, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
  13. yogi

    Intolerance is at the heart of the Republican party, they just can't help themselves and no matter how hard they try to dress up the message, it is merely lipstick on a pig.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  14. Josh

    For once I wish my state would get widespread attention without the reason being stupid/negative. NC is a beautiful state and has a lot of great people. I just can't believe these people got elected. Not only is this happening, but the republicans in the state senate are also toying with a bill that could negatively impact voters attending college, (who just happen to typically be more liberal.) It's now becoming quite clear why 2010 was the first time republicans gained a majority in the state legislature since 1898.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      Nice try double-talking lol?? (is also Sh!tiswati) You're so obvious.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  15. Andra

    So in the name of "what exactly?" we throw away our first and primary freedom, the Freedom of religion? Yes, people who believed in a supreme being and mostly believed in Jesus founded this country, but they did so because their freedom to worship as they chose was being trampled upon throughout the rest of the world. the whole point of Christianity is to "Become like Christ" and he was a pretty loving, accepting of all and dying for all kind of guy....no one was ever forced to believe in him.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
  16. Blake

    I'm no Christian, I'm someone who doesn't really care for religion. It's just a huge story book. We have the right to freedom of religion which means we can study whatever religion, if we choose any. If this happens these states need to be set as their own countries, bombed, made into a port for other states. This is SUCH a stupid idea.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  17. His panic

    Aha, so they deleted my comments on page 1! Can't handle the Truth huh?

    April 4, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  18. Elliot

    Everyone wants to be a Christian but no one wants to be like Christ.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Joe in MA


      April 5, 2013 at 6:22 am |
  19. joe

    Ah,the GOP is taking aim on its own foot again-this'll go over big in 2016. All Americans would love to live under a forced christian theocracy-it's like being in Iran but not as hot.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  20. His panic

    They are in a State of Panic!

    April 4, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • Fundies Gone Wild!

      You are right! Fundies are panicking and out of control! LOL

      April 4, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • His panic

      I meant the unbelievers!

      April 4, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Fundies Gone Wild!

      I'm pretty sure you really meant these people:


      April 4, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Andres Bosch

      It may be his panic or their panic but not mine. 😉

      April 4, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • His panic


      Is very easy to say that from the comfort of home in front of the PC smoking marijuana. But once things start to get hot in the kitchen, you will be in a state of total Panic, you will indeed Panic.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • His panic


      Are they in NC?

      April 4, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
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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.