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. Russell

    It can be embarrassing to live in the south when you've got fellow southerners like these boneheads in North Carolina that pull this kind of stuff. They are too ignorant to understand that freedom of religion and the separation of church and state are two of the things that make this country great.

    April 4, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • Southernsuga

      I live in the South. You're right, these boneheads don't seem to understand the Separation of Church and State clause.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • snowboarder

      suga, that is the most intelligent post i have ever read from you.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • Ross White, Canada

      I lived in Savannah, GA once. For two months... later.


      April 4, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
  2. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    How'd succession from the Const!tution work out last time North Carolina?

    April 4, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      According to Rowan County the Const!tution of the United States does not apply to them:

      from: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/PDF/H494v1.pdf

      Page 1 H494 [Edition 1]
      31 SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Const!tution
      32 of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws
      33 respecting an establishment of religion.
      SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal
      35 court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public
      36 General Assembly of North Carolina Session 2013
      Page 2 H494 [Edition 1]
      1 schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an
      2 establishment of religion.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Well I butchered that, but you can look it up.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
  3. Phill

    Dark Ages are back.
    Next week they will start burning witches

    April 4, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • gnewt

      Next week we'll start owning up to the witches we quietly burned last week. And burning "more witches"

      April 4, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
  4. Dan

    It's a sad attempt by the religious right to preserve their hold on America...almost makes me feel bad for them

    April 4, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • snowboarder

      not even for a second. supersti tion is long past its userfullness in this country.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • Really

      They bring it upon themselves. Godiszilla will take care of the sheep. Amen.

      April 5, 2013 at 4:33 am |
  5. RichardSRussell


    Next they'll want to make geocentrism the official geography of the state, probably with Charlotte as center of the world (which they'll claim is flat).

    April 4, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • allenwoll

      Universe !

      April 4, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
  6. Charlotte, NC

    Liberals stay out of the south and North Carolina!!!!!!

    April 4, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • snowboarder

      with idiocy like this, you won't have to ask twice.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Today's trivia question:

      For whom was North Carolina named?

      April 4, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • tasaad

      You don't have to be a liberal to understand the dangers of a state sponsored religion!

      April 4, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Liberace

      Go back to your rock and climb under it

      April 4, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • kuhrdan1

      Glad to do so, wouldn't have it any other way as I hold a cross with garlic to ward you off.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • HenryB

      Oh, how I wish we could all let you have those moron!c states, NC SC AL MS LA TX

      April 4, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • cholla9807


      April 5, 2013 at 12:16 am |
    • Trivia

      I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "For whom was North Carolina named?"

      A. It was named for the beheaded King of England, Charles I.

      April 5, 2013 at 4:44 am |
    • sam stone

      charlotte......eat your sidearm

      April 5, 2013 at 10:40 am |
  7. Johnny J

    America is officialyl unravelling. If we do this, Bin Laden wins, and he's dead..good and dead.. We have forgotten what America was started on. It wasn't Christianity. It was Freedom. Freedom from a King who told them what religion to follow, among other things. This is the beginning of the fall of modern Roman Empire. Let's not let that happen. Let's remain the land of the Free and the Home of the Brave...not the Land of the Followers and the Home of the Timid.

    April 4, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • snowboarder

      liberty is the first casualty of theology.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • the AnViL™

      "liberty is the first casualty of theology."

      ha! yes it is..

      and if you take an active stance against religious bigotry, intolerance, hate, ignorance and idiocy – they call YOU a bigot.


      too funny.

      sad – true – but funny.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • cholla9807


      April 5, 2013 at 12:18 am |
  8. regenesis0

    Well, this sure proved the woman who thought the County Commissioners were favoring Christians wrong!

    April 4, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
  9. #1__Christ__Fan

    we have an Official religion:


    Anyone who doubts it is just a denile,Satan-Worshiping Heathen.The Framers WANTS us to be Christan Protestation. Because that was their Intention.It's the only way to live happily.Any other way? Islam? LOLolOlOLOLOL!! That Evil cult that destroyed the World Trade Center

    April 4, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Akira

      That's why they framed the Constitution the way they did: separation of Church and State? Because they specifically wanted the US to be a Christian country?
      Um, no. Try again.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Jim

      This is awesome, I can't tell if your are trolling Christians are if you're serious. If you are, then you're doing them such a disservice that I almost feel bad, but also I can't thank you enough for showing your true disgusting nature, but I really think you have to be trolling Christians, there's just no way you can be serious. It's like being a Taliban member and calling yourself a normal Muslim.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • snowboarder

      you're just a crack pot.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      The likelihood that this is a Christian nation is directly proportional to the number of occurrences of the words "Jesus", "Christ", "Christian", "God", and "Bible" in the US Const¡tution.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • cholla9807

      From one denile (whatever the heck that is) heathen. I don't waste energy worshiping Satan. The "Framers," being plural, may have wanted us to be something (although my own knowledge suggests they weren't that interested in the subject). I doubt that it was "Cristan" though, and especially "Cristan Protestation." A number of the more influential were Unitarians. But that's neither here nor there. Whatever their private beliefs, they said unequivocally, no establishment of religion. Get over it.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • cholla9807

      @RichardSRussell. Love it. Wish I could give you lots of votes

      April 5, 2013 at 12:31 am |
    • Chris

      @Richard: I am stealing that line.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:58 am |
  10. Nicole

    Separation of church and state must have really been a big prank I guess. I thought this was just a brilliant CNN Aprils Fool's joke. Turns out, those NC reps are just fools.
    Sad. Very Sad.

    April 4, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
  11. Stacy

    No, no, no, no, no, no! Freedom of religion also means freedom FROM religion!! Keep religion OUT of politics!

    April 4, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • cholla9807

      @#1-Christ-Fan. well, the good news is, no one is in question about your sanity. We know it isn't there.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:35 am |
  12. Isaac Kaplan

    close call, phew.
    I live there and I enjoy being Jewish

    April 4, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
  13. jamesfoley

    I vote we ammend the first ammendment to include the segment, "and freedom from religion"

    April 4, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Unnecessary. It already says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and that right was extended to cover the actions of state government by the 14th Amendment.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
  14. the AnViL™

    born and raised in boston – after the military i moved to nc and attended unc (charlotte) – after that i spent most of my career working in a high tech field on the west side of the state. i'm telling you – spend some time here in nc – and if you're not disgusted by the abject ignorance, bigotry and sheer stupidity of the zealot baptist retards here – to the point of physical illness – you're numb from the neck up.

    these last few years – retired – splitting my time between property here in raleigh and out on topsail – it's been fairly easy to insulate myself from most of the idiocy – but some of it still manages to leak through – like this stupidity.

    if it wasn't for the weather and other amenities – i'd probably opt to live elsewhere – just – definitely not california or texas – where the zealots are way worse and much thicker and dumber.

    rowan county is known for their crackheads, bbq, lack of education and like most places here – churches on every corner.

    you haven't lived until you've experienced the disappointment, hurt, shock and disbelief on a coworkers or acquaintances face upon finding out you're not xian. it is literally an affront to them.

    you haven't experienced disgust until you've had someone gunning for you – upon finding out you do not worship their god.

    they'll work hard in the most passive aggressive ways to do you in – and if you're not smart – they'll succeed.

    the bigotry and ignorance has been inbred in them for centuries – and as a result – north carolina breeds more and more idiocy – and it's going to be centuries before the stupidity is educated out of these folks.

    tolerance of religious idiocy paves the way for ignorant lawmakers like the twits over in rowan county to work hard to insert their idiocy into the force of law – and it's got to end. thankfully – this resolution failed before it ever sprouted wings. who can say what they'll think up next.

    enough is enough.

    April 4, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • cholla9807


      April 5, 2013 at 12:38 am |
    • Really


      April 5, 2013 at 4:35 am |
    • Magnificent New Channel - MUST SEE!

      Wonder if the politicians have seen this ?


      April 5, 2013 at 5:00 am |
  15. This is war

    This is not ordinary move. This is the way to fight against different religious in nonviolent way. They simply want to write christian everywhere and try to darken all other religious.

    April 4, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • regenesis0

      More and more I feel like a certain party is intent on destroying America in the name of saving it.
      What is this argument? "Screw you, we're not a country! The federal government can't pass laws that apply to the country!"

      If they honestly don't think the federal laws apply to their state, I encourage them to stop sending their lawmakers to Washington. Because that group is the #1 cause of deliberate gridlock. Not ideological gridlock - deliberate obstructionism for the sake of obstructionism; a direct attack on the functioning of government... usually while screaming how much they hate the Federal government.
      They didn't come to DC to govern, they just came to break things. So can we just send them home?

      April 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
  16. Blessed are the Cheesemakers

    Mark my words if and when these preachers get control of the (republican) party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians Believe they are acting in the name of god, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.

    ~Republican Barry Goldwater

    April 4, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • John

      The Crusades... the Spanish Inquisition... Salem Witch Trials...

      April 4, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      And let's not forget the Holocaust, where Christians targeted their fellow citizens simply because they were Jewish.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • Really

      Religion = Fear = Guilt = oppression = Rich vs Poor.

      April 5, 2013 at 4:39 am |
  17. hfsiohf

    Here another stupid bible reader try to shine their community.

    April 4, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  18. Solitairedog

    IT's not North Carolina, it's North Carolina Republicans. We here in NC suffer under a backward, oppressive, repulsive Republican legislature. Free us.

    April 4, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • cholla9807

      Get out of there, my friend, and let them fricasee one another.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:41 am |
  19. Akira

    I laughed when I read this, then I thought "Wait, they're serious??"

    April 4, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  20. Kanageloa

    If push comes to shove, I'd rather have christians telling me what to do instead of muslims. You think christians are strange, muslims are down right hateful and dangerous. Visit the middle east if you don't believe me.

    April 4, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Yeah, I mean, I'd rather have just my hands cut off than my feet too.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I'd rather havemy feetcutoffpersonally,butI like the analogy.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I would too, but if the christian dominionists ever got their way it would not be that different from Muslim theocracies.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • jack

      Obviously, you are a very ignorant person. did anyone ever teach you to not judge a book by its cover? Any one who is knowledgeable about other religions and races, which is being open minded, will know that not all Muslims are hateful and dangerous. Did you know that Muslims and Christianity share more common things than any other religion? Only thing really is Jesus for a difference . I'm Muslim and I don't hate and I'm not dangerous and I'm Bosnian. Look it up if you dont know about that either. Those Muslims in the middle east are just plan crazy. If there were Christians who started blowing things up, then the other parts of the world would say, " Christians are dangers and hateful".

      April 4, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • John

      Voila! Separation of church and state! Still a really good idea!

      April 4, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • fred

      Do you believe Muslims that become Christian should be shot?

      April 4, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • snowboarder

      assuming that the 1 or 2 percent of muslims in this country actually have the strength to tell you anything.

      what a moron you are.

      April 4, 2013 at 10:52 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.