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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. Sally Hodges

    It never fails to amaze me how Christian zealots stir up such emotion from all of us. We must consider the source. If you don't let your children rile you, then how is that any different than a bunch of loons whose sacred scripture features a talking bush, a floating ark with pairs of animals, and a main character who rides a donkey? The ONLY part of the Bible worth considering is how to change plain ordinary water into wine. Master THAT and you have my attention!

    April 5, 2013 at 6:06 am |
    • Credit to God for his creation

      The source of the universe is the almighty God. Go ahead and consider him, properly by getting a bible, believe him and read it.

      April 5, 2013 at 6:12 am |
    • saggyroy

      @Credit, you have made the statement, now prove it. I will accept anything outside of the bible.

      April 5, 2013 at 6:18 am |
    • Credit to God for his creation

      God is the one that proves himself to believers. Why do you reject the bible? If you don't believe God, what do you propose is the source of the big bang, life, and species? Science has given no source for those so you are much worse off than those that knew and know he's there.

      April 5, 2013 at 6:29 am |
    • saggyroy

      I'm still waiting for your proof.

      April 5, 2013 at 6:31 am |
    • saggyroy

      @Credit. I am still waiting for your proof.

      April 5, 2013 at 6:32 am |
    • Credit to God for his creation

      You want me to share my proof of God with you? Get a bible and start reading.

      April 5, 2013 at 6:37 am |
    • saggyroy

      I have read the bible. Next.

      April 5, 2013 at 6:54 am |
    • saggyroy

      There's also a book that says pumpkins can turn into carriages – it's called Cinderella. So we got that mystery solved.

      April 5, 2013 at 7:01 am |
    • mincity

      Look if you don't want to believe in God or critsize religion its all good and I completely understand where you are coming from. I agree churches have failed very often to teach and help people understand God and his mericles and how they could even take place. Best anology is trying to explain how a cell phone works to someone who lived 500 years ago. That being said I am not in agreement with the law they attempted to pass. People have a right to either believe or not believe. If they truly have faith in the God in the Bible they will be less concerned about making laws to control how people think and more concerned about work on themselves and their families. God can and will take care of what he is supposed to making legistlation to control peoples beliefs is not going to make things better. Don't say your a Christian act like one have faith

      April 5, 2013 at 7:08 am |
    • saggyroy

      Credit raised my hopes of proof of god. I am disappointed once again.

      April 5, 2013 at 7:12 am |
    • WASP

      @Credit to God for his creation

      The source of the universe is the almighty ALLAH. Go ahead and consider him, properly by getting a QURAN, believe him and read it.

      (see how lovely almost any invisible, magic fairy from the sky's name fits into your claim?)

      April 5, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • sam stone

      "God is the one that proves himself to believers."

      Look up "confirmation bias" and get back to us

      "Why do you reject the bible?"

      Why do you reject the tao te ching? Why do you reject the Upanishads? Why do you reject all the other "sacred" texts that an has written?

      "f you don't believe God, what do you propose is the source of the big bang, life, and species? "

      Don't know. Even if there is a creator, why do you feel that it must be a "god"?

      "Science has given no source for those so you are much worse off than those that knew and know he's there."

      You seem to have an issue confusing belief with knowledge

      April 5, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • Pauline

      mincity
      You say that churches have failed very often to help people understand God and how miracles could even take place, and you use the analogy of trying to explain a cell phone to someone living 500 years ago. Fair enough, but are you bringing that person to this time when the phone would actually work, or are you going with it to his time when it wouldn't? My point is that you are assuming that there existed a time when miracles actually worked, but we have no evidence that there ever was such a time. Your analogy thus fails.

      April 5, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • tallulah13

      Believers like to say that "god reveals himself" to those who want to believe. But that isn't proof. Proof is indisputable. Proof is neutral. Proof does not require you believe it before you are shown.

      Believers have no proof, only emotions. And we all know how easy it is for emotions to be manipulated.

      April 5, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      tallulah13

      Believers like to say that "god reveals himself" to those who want to believe.
      """"""""""""
      This is a trait for all the gods

      April 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  2. Sally Hodges

    Your average Joe on Myrtle Beach could write more sensible legislation than this!

    April 5, 2013 at 5:59 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Presumably a very average Joe halfway between Charlotte and Greensboro did write it.

      April 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  3. Sally Hodges

    There was a time when the Church ruled the world. This period in history is known as the Dark Ages.

    April 5, 2013 at 5:36 am |
    • Science

      And a time before that !

      Was the bible around back then ?

      Human Y Chromosome Much Older

      Than Previously Thought

      Mar. 4, 2013 — The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130305145821.htm

      No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US

      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 who

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

      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.

      http://www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldocket/intelligentdesigncase/dovertrialtranscripts.htm

      April 5, 2013 at 5:47 am |
  4. mique

    Will these idiots never cease?

    April 5, 2013 at 4:43 am |
    • saggyroy

      "Not until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest" – Diderot

      April 5, 2013 at 6:29 am |
  5. xmas teabags in NC

    republicans need to move to Republistan.
    they will be at home and the US will be better off.

    April 5, 2013 at 4:02 am |
    • Sally Hodges

      HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!! Too funny... and sad that it's not true...

      April 5, 2013 at 5:38 am |
    • saggyroy

      Watch out for countries ending in "stan".

      April 5, 2013 at 6:20 am |
  6. Roland Dubois

    AMERICA thinking it's self to be wise has become a fool,go back to your roots before it's to late.

    April 5, 2013 at 3:18 am |
    • Mirosal

      So tell us, just what do you think ARE America's roots? Judging by the grammar and spelling of your post, either English is not your native tongue, or you failed 4th grade for the 3rd time. Which is it?

      April 5, 2013 at 3:50 am |
    • sam stone

      Which roots are those, Ronald?

      Slavery?
      Women not voting?

      The thing is, societies evolve.

      What you are suggesting is cultural stagnation.

      Go back to the 1950's, gramps

      April 5, 2013 at 8:41 am |
    • tallulah13

      So you want to go back to the ways of the Native Americans? I'm not sure how that would work, given that many of the tribes were hunter/gatherers and we really don't have the natural areas to sustain that lifestyle, but I'm willing to give it a go.

      April 5, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  7. Roland Dubois

    Stupid Americans

    April 5, 2013 at 3:15 am |
  8. miscreantsall

    An official State Religion?

    We don't even have an Official LANGUAGE!!

    There really is a strong and real effort out there to dilute Separation of Church and State! Here's is what is so ironic:

    Anyone recall one of the most telling statement that Jesus Christ said? "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give Jehovah (God) was belongs to Jehovah". Seems to me that is an early version of separation of church and state.

    April 5, 2013 at 2:58 am |
    • SixDegrees

      "There really is a strong and real effort out there to dilute Separation of Church and State! Here's is what is so ironic:"

      No. There's a strong and real effort to remove that separation completely, and establish a fundamentalist evangelical theocracy in its place.

      Look up the "Wedge Doc ument" for details on what they have planned.

      April 5, 2013 at 3:20 am |
  9. Bob

    The American Taliban rises! By the way, I want Roman Catholic Christianity, the first and only real Christian religion, to be the official religion...none of these protestant off shoots.

    April 5, 2013 at 2:45 am |
    • OTOH

      Bob,

      Well, the Westboro folks probably stick closer to the original Bible spiels than many. I'm sure that Fred Phelps (or Shirley) would love to be governor / bishop / grand poobah of North Carolina!

      April 5, 2013 at 3:59 am |
  10. Bob1god

    WOW, take a 2 hr. Power nap, and look what happens. NC Su
    x, plus my idiot brother & his beouch wife live there.

    April 5, 2013 at 2:06 am |
  11. BeverlyNC

    I live in NC and this is not the only embarrassing and rights destruction by our new Republican Governor and our all Republican legislature. We also have Voter Supression Laws coming. Have to to go to DMV – getting there is your problem as is their limited hours open. Our popular early voting program is being cut in half with no evening or weekend voting and only ONE early voting site per COUNTY. The most ridiculous component is if you are a college student and register to vote in NC, your parents wil be sent a tax penalty from the State of NC.
    So we are not only backwards on a state religion but Republicans are destroying our education system, pre-K programs, opening back fracking which the citizens soundly rejected, and defunding all social programs like Meals on Wheels for home-bound seniors and the disabled.
    The State motto is "Live Free or Die" – so I guess NC will be dying a slow and embarrassing and immoral death.

    April 5, 2013 at 2:03 am |
    • Lisbeth Salander

      "Live free or die" is New Hampshire's state motto. North Carolina's state motto is "To be, rather than to seem", meaning it is more important to actually be stupid than to just seem stupid.

      April 5, 2013 at 2:34 am |
    • canastakid

      I totally agree Bev. I too am a resident of NC. This sort of nonsense makes me ashamed to tell anyone where I live. North Carolina has the reputation of being a backwards, hillbilly state. I can see how that assumption fits. Hopefully, we can get some of these old Republicans replaced with some forward thinking Democrats soon.

      April 5, 2013 at 3:25 am |
  12. exRed

    My family moved from North Carolina to Georgia in 1849. Now, I know why.

    April 5, 2013 at 1:51 am |
  13. Grace Moore

    So hypocrites want to pray at public meetings? Do they think they are impressing someone. I don't think so.

    April 5, 2013 at 1:16 am |
  14. Grace Moore

    Why do a bunch of hypocrites want to pray at public meetings? Do they think they are impressing someone. I don't think so.

    April 5, 2013 at 1:15 am |
  15. Rob

    Hey cheko if you can't touch the 2nd amendment you surely can't touch the 1st. Which freedom of religion falls under the 1st you couldn't change it if you wanted to. Instead how about picking 1 frigging language. So we can all understand each other. Yeah English is the most common but case you didn't know we have no national language.

    April 5, 2013 at 1:12 am |
    • mike in Wa

      First amendment says Congress will make no law. Them ending a county meeting with a prayer is a long ways off from congress making a law.

      April 5, 2013 at 1:35 am |
  16. Tracy

    Ironically, the same area of the country that refuses to budge on the 2nd amendment, wanted to rewrite the 1st amendment. Hypocrites.

    April 5, 2013 at 1:06 am |
  17. ThisIsAbsurd

    This is without a shadow of a doubt the dumbest absurdly ridiculous thing I have ever heard of in my life. These politicians do not have a clue.

    April 5, 2013 at 1:02 am |
  18. Josh

    My family were some of the original settlers of Rowan County. I am ashamed.

    April 5, 2013 at 12:56 am |
  19. Julie

    That elected officials in the USA in 2013 could even think of proposing such a thing is both astonishingly ignorant and frightening. What kind of thought process do these people have – to try and pass legislation to "protect" the "freedom of speech" of county officials at the expense of the everyone else? The right to pray is never in danger, NEVER. Abstaining from doing so in a public government forum is no threat to anyones ability to pray. In fact, the NT instructs us to pray in private and decries public yelling about "Lord, Lord" as empty displays of sanctimoniousness.
    It's good that this idiotic thing seems to be DOA. The day we start passing this kind of nonsense is the day that the ascendancy of America is truly over and we descend to the level of theocratic politics such as we see in the Islamic world today.
    And I'm a Christian.

    April 5, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • mu4bxi5ut

      You're a good person whom happens to be a Christian 🙂

      April 5, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • Lucas

      Actually, the Supreme Court has ruled it is fine for a state legislatures and town councils to begin and end sessions with prayer. I'm not sure why doing the same at a county meeting would really be any different.

      April 5, 2013 at 1:08 am |
  20. mu4bxi5ut

    Some religious folks are just ignorant. I prefer to not go directly to the term stupid. Though, some do go out of their way to deny themselves further intellectual enrichment. In this case, they are stupid.
    Just recently I wore an atheist shirt to promote out of the closet atheism. One person asked me what atheism is, where I replied that an atheist is one that doesn't accept theist claims. He immediately asked if I was a scientologist, LOL. I stated Scientology is a religion. This guy, I do live in the south by the way, actually thought Scientology was science. It is simply amazing what one can come to believe regardless if there is any facts to support said belief. Then in turn, attempt to structure a entire community around his/her belief system.

    April 5, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      That's rich. Confusing Scientology with science is exactly like how they confuse a scientific theory with the everyday use of the word theory meaning a guess or speculation.
      Bill Maher has a video on his last show showing where a reporter went ot a Tea Party rally and questioned a number of them about government spending cuts. This is their big beef after all. So each was asked what should be cut. Social Security? No. Unemployment benefits? No. Medicare/Medicaid? No. Defence spending? No....on and on...program after program...no cuts should be made they said. So what gov't spending should be cut? Answer..."I don"t know" was the usual comeback. Some were bold enought to say foriegn aid and gov't employee salaries both of which add up to the tiniest fraction of gov't spending and wouldn't do a thing to reduce overspending and debt Conclusion?...Basically your average citizen is an ignorant moron unfit to make decisions of importance.

      April 5, 2013 at 9:10 am |
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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.