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. IslandAtheist

    My city council thinks Christianity is our state religion http://www.oakharbor.org/video-view.cfm?series=39

    April 4, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  2. Calvin

    Further proof that the Civil War has not ended.

    April 4, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
  3. Peter Knight

    Aah, let them secede and form their own country. Then they wont have to depend on the armed forces, state subsidies, federal grants etc. etc. They will be totally FREEE! and the rest of us from them.

    April 4, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • Keith

      Yeah, the really telling statistic is that the states that try to pull this kind of crap are the states that collect more payouts from the Federal govt than they contribute revenues to...if they seceded, they couldn't afford to give all the tax breaks to the wealthy local nobility!

      April 4, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  4. hubert39

    All these religious people must love the Taliban.

    April 4, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  5. End Religion


    April 4, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  6. Zingo

    Other the other hand, North Carolina doe make Texas look relatively slightly less stupid.

    April 4, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • lol

      Please learn to type and form sentences before you call anyone or anything stupid.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Really

      We speak da way we wanna on da comment boards = FAKKeww. PeaceAll

      April 5, 2013 at 4:27 am |
  7. IslandAtheist

    This will be very good for the atheist movement.

    April 4, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • snowboarder

      lol, don't be confused by your own stench.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
  8. GAW

    Don't do this North Carolina!

    April 4, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
  9. Jason

    Another example of how Christians are dangerous! Its not enough for them to just live the way they believe they take every chance to shove it down your throat and even legislate it for you! NO THANKS!

    April 4, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • Dr. Julie

      Right on brother! They're so blind it's humorous! They don't want to be told that they can't practice THEIR own religion, but they're more than willing to shove theirs down everyone else's throat! LOL Well, I'm a chewer, myself. LOLOLOL

      April 4, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
  10. allenwoll

    Freedom FROM religion trumps EVERY OTHER consideration ! !
    I hear that The Taliban is sending an Imam as a Rep to assist NC. . How appropriate ! !

    April 4, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
  11. NCnative67

    I live in Raleigh, NC and I can tell you, we the citizens of North Carolina want nothing to do with the GOP or any of the bills they pass. We are stuck with this bunch of idiots for two years. The GOP is going as far as taxing at the poll in the next local election. The GOP now has a bill that will make electric car owners pay a higher tax every year since they aren't buying gasoline.

    April 4, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • allenwoll

      NC67 – As much as I abhor the GoP (as presently MIS-led), they are correct in asking electric car owners to pay a road tax. . Otherwise, soon, NO ROADS !

      April 4, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • Saraswati

      It might have been a good idea not to elect them then. But we are talking about the same voters who elected not only to ban same-se.x marriage but even all civil unions and partnerships. Sorry, not a of sympathy for the voters there. Glad I got out when I did.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • mikes

      Electric cars still use and cause wear on the roads, maintenance of which is primarily funded with gasoline taxes. What's unfair about having them pay a fair share?

      April 4, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      If you (the people) want nothing to do with the GOP prove it in the next election. Put your money where your mouth is. Hopefully South Carolina will follow your lead. If they re elect Mark "Appalachian trails" Sanford to office the state should be nuked.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • DaMeglet

      What about sales tax, state income tax and ad valorem taxes? Believe me no one is paving the roads with gasoline. LOL

      April 4, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • Dr. Julie

      THANK YOU! People like you consistently restore my faith in the South! I raise a Mint Julep (sp?) to you in praise!!! I'm glad because I might move down there. Chicago is getting WAY too cold for me. 🙂

      April 4, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • fyre

      I have such fond memories of gorgeous North Carolina. What on earth is going on with its government lately???

      April 4, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
  12. Chris

    These 2 a s s clown representatives are an embarrassment to the state of North Carolina. Why do Republicans think Democrats ran the NC House for over 100 years until this last election. The NC GOP is setting the NC Democrats for another 100 years.

    April 4, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
  13. Saraswati

    Has anyone seen an estimate on what the cost to taxpayers is going to be?

    April 4, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • snowboarder

      probably only in supposed inforcement. i would love to be the first person to test this type of law.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • snowboarder


      April 4, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Sara...........................No matter the cost, It's still too much. These are the same "Govt too big" "Govt waste money" republicans and tea partiers. pushing this nonsense.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • Saraswati


      Agreed. I'd still like to see just how much taxpayer money they're wasting and and calculate how many cops won't be working or kids will go unvaccinated as a result.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @sara.....If you can ask the question, how come the people of NC aren't asking the question. This is an indictment of our education system. People need to pull their heads out their AZZ, stop blindly voting for the party they are registered to and ask some hard questions.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @lol?? I'm not sure what your point is? What are you trying to say?

      April 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • Really

      Tax payers will then convert their homes into Churches and become TAX EXEMPT.

      April 5, 2013 at 4:31 am |
  14. snowboarder

    i have to assume that this is a joke, because any "right" protected at the federal level must equally be protected at every level of government or it is no "right" at all.

    April 4, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • Nah

      snow: "i have to assume that this is a joke, because any "right" protected at the federal level must equally be protected at every level of government or it is no "right" at all."

      Not really. The Bill of Rights wasn't applied to the states for quite a long time. The states could violate the Amendments simply because they didn't apply to the states.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


      You are wrong, the Consti.tution of the U.S. Supercedes all State Consti.tutions. States can give more rights than The Fed Gov't but not less.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • snowboarder

      though the intent of the framers of the consti tution was quite clear, it apparently took quite somet time for the nation in general to understant their importance.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • Keith

      The last time the Southern states tested that "principle" of nullification was with the Civil War - remember how that worked out for them?

      April 4, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  15. Cyndi

    I can't believe people really want to be ruled by religion. I mean we have seen how that has worked out for the middle east.

    April 4, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • ..

      Shithead, go live in a theocracy. Iran will love your sort of religious fervor. Asshole.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
  16. americansareinsane

    um do they know about the 1st amendment and our freedom of religions???

    April 4, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • snowboarder

      sure shi!, where do you believe your rights over-ride the rights of others with regard to religion and civil rights?

      April 4, 2013 at 9:24 pm |

  17. Saraswati is well-educated, quite well informed on many topics, has obviously read widely, and applies logic well. Saraswati is also rather fair, giving good and appropriate criticism to believers and nonbelievers alike. But for Saraswati and others with a similar approach to this bog, putting up with the few stupid shits here certainly wouldn't be worth the time.

    April 4, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
  18. Heath

    No, and HELL no! Bunch of morons in bib overalls.

    April 4, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  19. us_1776

    GOP/TEA = American Taliban


    April 4, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
  20. cigarlover

    This proves that the fundamentalist christians are exactly the same as the islamists. They have the same brain alogorithm just the symptoms are different.
    I would really like to see a Hindu or Budhhist legislator introducing a bill proclaiming a county or state be awarded official religion status. The you would see the hypocrisy of Christians, screming from all their holes.

    April 4, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Starrface

      COULDN'T AGREE MORE!!!! What a bunch of southern hillbillies.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:12 pm |

    • Saraswati is well-educated, quite well informed on many topics, has obviously read widely, and applies logic well. Saraswati is also rather fair, giving good and appropriate criticism to believers and nonbelievers alike. But for Saraswati and others with a similar approach to this bog, putting up with the few stupid shits here certainly wouldn't be worth the time.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • Teamski

      Concur! I know James Madison and Thomas Jefferson would be rolling over in their graves if such a law was passed...... This is not what our country was founded on.


      April 4, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
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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.