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. Faith-Isn't-a-Preacher

    U.S. Government ACA/State Theocracy, little difference.

    They both farm people to establish or sustain their authority overthem.

    April 5, 2013 at 12:22 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      What does the American Canoe Association have to do with this?

      April 5, 2013 at 12:31 am |
    • Lola Bunch

      Stefan Molyneux? Seriously??
      Get real.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:32 am |
    • Faith-Isn't-a-Preacher

      Lola, denial?

      April 5, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • Lola Bunch

      No...why? Do you think everyone should be as paranoid as you?

      April 5, 2013 at 12:59 am |
  2. Christians always act as victims!

    All religions are the cesspool of barbarism.

    April 5, 2013 at 12:14 am |
  3. rogue351

    And it is about time for gun bans and control. Every time we see the Democrats take the lead in this country the Revolutionary, fundamentalist, racist right sticks their ugly head out of the holes of paranoia they have been living in. Who in their right mind would back a party, like the GOP / Tea Party with member like the KKK and the Arian Brotherhood. And then on top of the let anyone and everyone have / buy/ sell any type of weapon they want. And then on top of that think for one second anyone is going to be safe ? This is just insane. The GOP / Tea party fundamentalist will ALWAYS resort to violence, fear and hate to regain control. And most of the tie they do this via religion and it is further fueled everyday on the radio and TV by people like Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh but they do it for the money, they are ok with being pawns of the violent bigger picture lurking in the back ground. Just remember a terrorist is a terrorist regardless if they are operating from back water USA or Iran. And they ALL should be dealt with exactly the same way.

    April 5, 2013 at 12:11 am |
    • mike in Wa

      Funny I remember seeing more violence at Occupy protests then and Tea Party protests.

      April 5, 2013 at 1:39 am |
    • lol??

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      You forgot the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Talk about throwin' the Masters' money around!......

      April 5, 2013 at 9:57 am |
  4. Mack

    The more frustrated these Christian GOP RWNJ's get, the more bizarre they become with their legislative process. They want government out of peoples' lives unless they don't like the direction the government/society is going, then they propose laws to redirect towards their end game. #hypocritesmuch?

    April 5, 2013 at 12:07 am |
    • Bostontola

      Great point. Don't forget they scream the 2nd amendment is sacrosanct, but the 1st is nullifiable. I don't think it's hypocrisy, I think it's a lack of critical thinking skills.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:11 am |
    • breathe deep

      What I really don't understand is why they think the original pilgrims wanted to come here in the first place. Was it because they didn't want to be ruled under an overruling religious government, or was it to not be ruled under an overruling government of somebody else's religious beliefs?

      April 5, 2013 at 1:00 am |
    • Getoverit

      No, it was about taxes....

      April 5, 2013 at 1:40 am |
    • OTOH

      breathe deep,

      You might want to do some reading about those Puritan pilgrims... and what they believed, and who they persecuted. We should be so glad that wiser heads prevailed in establishing the laws of this country!

      "Their isolation in the New World, their introversion, the harshness and dangers of their new existence, their sense that they were a new Chosen People of God destined to found a New Jerusalem – a New City of God in the midst of the wilderness – insured that American Puritanism would remain more severe (and, frequently, more intellectually subtle and rigorous) than that which they had left behind. The American Puritan tended to interpret the Bible, which had supreme literary value because it was the perfect word of God, even more literally than did his British counterparts. Though many of the original American Puritans – many of whom were both preachers and authors – had attended English Universities, they tended to form religious oligarchies and sought to establish a purified church – which meant the frequently harsh imposition of religious uniformity upon an unwilling populace.

      It was to escape Puritan religious persecution that Roger Williams, a minister from Salem, established his colony in Rhode Island in 1636. The overt remnants of Puritanism did not die out in New England until well into the nineteenth century, and it echoes in American society today. In coming to the New World in the first place, Puritans altered the course of history, for better or for worse. There were approximately 4,000,000 English- speaking people in the entire world in 1603: less than four centuries later there are over seventy-five times that number." - http://www.victorianweb.org/religion/puritan2.html

      April 5, 2013 at 3:32 am |
  5. jesus christ

    Can you say "Theocracy"?
    We don't need another Afghanistan in the world. I live in Utah and I'm surprised that Mormons aren't doing the same thing. Speak out against religion!


    April 5, 2013 at 12:00 am |
  6. saganhill

    If this passes....Well, he we go down the road of Fascism and it was a cross wrapped in an American Flag.

    April 4, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • saganhill


      April 4, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Lola Bunch

      Lol??, that's the conservatives that want the one world government, not anyone else. Do you ever do any research outside of your Bible?

      April 5, 2013 at 12:05 am |
  7. Faith-Isn't-a-Preacher

    We already have a National Religion.
    The ACA is the Doctrine, Government Agency Heads are the Clergy, and the President is the High Priest that decides who is pandered to or is treated punitively via selective enforcement or privilege.
    Socialism is the Religion of Statist.

    April 4, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • Lola Bunch

      You do realize that this is completely ridiculous, do you not?

      April 4, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Faith-Isn't-a-Preacher

      Ridiculous only to those blind to it or complicit.
      Do you know history?

      April 5, 2013 at 12:01 am |
    • Lola Bunch

      Yes, I know history. Do you know why what you are sooooo afraid of will never happen? Hint: term limits.
      Do you know how to turn Alex Jones off?

      April 5, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • Mack

      Faith: 30%+ of the US doesn't subscribe to your religion. They couldn't care less what you believe in. They're atheists when it comes to Christianity and don't lose a wink of sleep at night, just like you don't about other faiths. Who's right?

      April 5, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Lola, you can't reason someone out of a position they weren't reasoned in to.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  8. Charlotte

    Dear "Charlotte, NC": Fear not. No thinking, intelligent, educated person has the slightest interest in moving to TrailerTrashLand (a.k.a. "Dixie.") Any treasonous traitor who is so un-American and misguided as to try to impose the bible and krishteeanitee on everyone else in the world is not worth having for a neighbor.

    April 4, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
  9. David Witcraft

    These guys should move to Afghanistan! Just reject american taliban! I won't come to your church and tell you what to believe. Don't impose your religous beliefs on me, deal?

    April 4, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
    • Lola Bunch

      Mark 12:17, lol??. Now, hush.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:01 am |
    • Mack

      lol: quoting your fictional playbook isn't a valid source any longer.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:03 am |
    • cholla9807

      @lol?? Pathetic.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:07 am |
    • Lola Bunch

      Um, the government, in this instance, same as it was back then. If you can't play by your own rulebook, you should probably just s t f u.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • Lola Bunch

      Are you being deliberately ignorant, lol??, or does it come to you naturally?

      April 5, 2013 at 12:22 am |
    • lol??

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      "Mar 12:17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him."

      amerika has Masters and PUblic Servants. Now who do you say is Caesar???????

      April 5, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  10. Ross White, Canada

    I think this is a great idea... (insert picture of Ross rolling his eyes). Why? Well, "because it says so in "the babble," that's why!

    April 4, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • eman

      I've seen Baptist Churches, Mormon Temples, Catholic Churches, etc but I've never seen a sign that reads "Christianity Church". I ask you, how can we craft moral laws based on the teaching of the Bible, when religions like Anglicans and Unitarians support things like gay/female clergy?

      If they're going to do this, then they should have the Catholics, Unitarians, Jews, Scientologists, Muslims, Jehovahs, Baptists, Mormons, etc. duke it out to settle this once and for all. Finally, we'll know for sure which religion is really THE correct religion in God's eyes.. Then, all the losers can suck it when the school teaches their kids that they will go to hell if they don't convert to X. People have been arguing about this for thousands of years. Just think, VA can finally put an end to this fighting and unite their world under the one official religion. Suddenly, these VA hillbillies don't seem so dumb, do they?

      April 5, 2013 at 12:15 am |
  11. Bostontola

    Sad if there are politicians from districts that would support something as divisive as a state religion. Why would a state want to be like Iran or Saudi Arabia?

    April 4, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • Ross White, Canada

      "Because it says so in the babble."


      April 4, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  12. Reality

    By the laws of the federal government, marijuana is an illegal drug. The citizens of Oregon and Washington 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 4, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Is marijuana prohibited in the Const!tution of the United States?

      (The answer is 'no' by the way.)

      The establishment of religion is expressly prohibited in the first amendment. The North Carolina legislature tried to say that it simply didn't apply to them.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • snowboarder

      gop, very true

      April 4, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • Reality

      “The Federal government has criminalized marijuana under the Interstate Commerce Clause. Additionally, under the Supremacy Clause, any state law in conflict with federal law is not valid. The Commerce Clause describes an enumerated power listed in the United States Const-itution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3). The clause states that the United States Congress shall have power "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes."

      But if marijuana is now legal in two states will the SCOTUS rule otherwise? I don’t see any rapid move on their part to do so.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
    • Lola Bunch

      Reality, so? It still has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment, so your OP still, in this instance, is erroneous. You posting your beloved data isn't going to change that. I know you hate being wrong, but you frequently are, and this just proves it. Again.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:18 am |
    • Reality

      The SCOTUS will determine the right or wrong of the commentary.

      April 5, 2013 at 7:27 am |
  13. Liberty

    I find it mildly amusing all the Liberals are saying Dont force his on us and you can't violate our rights namely the first amendment but yet here they are violating the 2nd amendment by shoving so called gun control down everyone's throat, which btw criminals don't follow laws. NC delagtes have hit upon something, namely maybe we should be looking to fix this broken society because its obvious that measures and laws enacted by liberals don't work. Liberals saw we conservatives cling to guns and religion, what do liberals cling to... Abortion, atheism, and redistribution?

    April 4, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • snowboarder

      basing civil laws on religion, besides being against the consti tution, is just plain ignorance.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • Bostontola

      The problem is, this is already decided by the SC. The establishment clause was already ruled to preclude state religions. If this came to the SC, they probably wouldn't even hear arguments.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • snowboarder

      as usual lol, your comments are unintelligible.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • LibertyForAll

      Atheists don't feel compelled to believe in any gods. Period. They can be democrate republican independant male female tall short black white etc etc. I am an atheist and have a CHL.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Saraswati

      You might want to compare murder rates in various wealthy countries against gun control laws.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      you left out marriage equality in your little diatribe.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Juliana

      Actually, we liberals cling to choice, separation of church & state, and equality & opportunities for all.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
    • Saraswati


      I think a lot of fundamentalists are somehow unaware of the large percentage of atheists that are libertarian leaning and might even be Republicans if it weren't for the clutch of the churches on that party.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • Keith

      Which part of "a well regulated militia" don't you understand?

      April 5, 2013 at 12:03 am |
    • sam stone

      funny that you call yourself "liberty" when the religious conservatives are wetting themselves in fear that gays will be able to legally marry those of the same gender

      April 5, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  14. Saraswati

    Hey, did my stalker disappear? We were reading his psycho rants out in the commercials all night for laughs...funny stuff. Now I don't feel so special anymore.

    April 4, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  15. Charlotte, NC

    We have two countries. The south and everybody else. God bless Dixie!!!!

    April 4, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • snowboarder

      i doubt god would bless ignorance.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • sam stone

      yep, looks like god has already blessed dixie.....lower income, lower education, higher obesity....shall i continue?

      April 5, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  16. Bill39

    Bad idea.

    April 4, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
  17. sumguy

    Apparently these people don't see want happens when religion becomes law. There is this place called the middle east where you can sentenced to death over religion.

    April 4, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
  18. Charlotte, NC

    Don't move to the south or nc!!!!!!

    April 4, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Tried it, moved out again. Turned out I was wrong and it *was* as bad as everyone said.

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

      @lol?? what's a socies?

      April 5, 2013 at 12:12 am |
  19. HenryMiller

    "Two Republican representatives in North Carolina filed a resolution Monday that would permit the state to declare Christianity its official religion..."

    I just read the actual bill—neither the word "Christianity," nor any other specific religion, is mentioned. Nor is there any mention of any intent to establish a state religion,only that the federal government doesn't have the right to forbid states to doing that, which is true.

    CNN, this piece was either irresponsibly, or incompetently, written.

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

      which is not true.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      so you propose that they wanted to declare the state relgion of North Carolina to be Islam, after nullifying the 1st amendment?


      There is nothing disingenous in this CNN article at all.

      April 4, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • HenryB

      And you, HenryMiller are a fruitcake

      April 4, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • Keith

      Who said that all southerners were dumb ignorant hicks, here is one who can actually READ.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  20. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Perhaps I should send a donation to "Americans United for Separation of Church and State"?

    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.
    By Thursday afternoon, the resolution was dead.

    Someone did some nice work there.

    April 4, 2013 at 11:01 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.