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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. Jack

    Understand that North Carolina was one of the most progressive states in the country until the Republicans took over the State House, Senate, & the Governorship. We were the home of some of the top universities in the country...Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, N.C. State...the top medical facilities...the home of the most progressive tech companies within the Research Triangle Park.. We only became backwoods hillbillies as a result of the Republican takeover... Sad but true...

    April 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • mb2010a

      Agreed...Texas has exactly the same problem.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Jessica

      Jack, Well the "good" people of NC have elected these officials and keep on electing them. You get what you vote for.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  2. bvilleyellowdog

    Fundie KKKranks

    April 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • lol??

      lol??
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      KKK:Democratic socie political org. Ever heard of Senator BYRDbwain? He copped a loot of goodies from the neighboring states...

      April 5, 2013 at 9:22 am |
  3. Liberals are hhypocrites and know it alls

    I love the way atheists and liberals love to act so all knowing and superior on these sites. Never thoughtful or fact based, just the standard drivel that supports THEIR ideologies and beliefs One of my favorites was from CPC 65 on page one. He proudly wished that the "southern states " be allowed to "sussed" from the union (I think he is referring to secession but he's so ignorant I may be wrong). What a tool, just like all anti-reliogios atheist zealots and their far left cronies.

    April 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Atheists are not "anti" religion nor are we zealots or "left", we simply have no reason to believe in a God(s). It's really that simple.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • JFCanton

      That seems to vary, though. Having a username that appears to be referencing Part 4 of Gulliver's Travels is clever. One that labels Religion X as a mental illness is not.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • MBAGUY12

      There is a difference between illiterate and ignorance. CPC 65 is illiterate (can't type/write) you are the ignorant one for not knowing the difference

      April 4, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Never thoughtful or fact based, just the standard drivel that supports THEIR ideologies and beliefs'

      oh the irony of your post is amazing.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  4. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    Notwithstanding the First Amendment "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . ." which these idiots have apparently never heard of, read these quotes from some of our Founding Fathers for further PROOF that this country IS NOT and NEVER HAS BEEN any kind of a "Christian" nation:

    Thomas Jefferson:

    "I have examined all the known superstítions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstítion of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology."

    “Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned: yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.”

    “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”

    “To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise…without plunging into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms. I am satisfied, and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.”

    “Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”

    1823 April 11. (Jefferson to John Adams). "The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."

    James Madison:
    "Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together"

    George Washington/John Adams (Treaty with Tripoli, drafted in 1796 under George Washington and signed by John Adams in 1797):
    “As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

    John Adams:
    “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.”

    April 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Robert in Utah

      Thank you G, well said!

      April 4, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  5. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    Once again followers show their true colors. They claim to want religious freedom, but in fact what they really want is the freedom to impose their beliefs on others. Maybe they don't know what freedom is?

    April 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • .

      Idiots haven't a clue unless another wants freedom from THEM. Then they call it "persecution".

      April 4, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  6. theala

    North Carolina enjoys a special level of nuttiness in the Legislature at the moment. With all the Yankees moving into the state and, more and more people standing up for their equal rights, the ultra conservatives in the state see their dominance slipping away in rural areas.

    They don't get that silliness like this isn't going to save them.

    April 4, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Don Key Ballz

      I am NC resident and citizen, sorry about them. Not all of us are religious nuts.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
  7. Homer

    Thank God North Carolina isn't in Springfield. Duuuhhh!! Can't thank God. Thank the big kahuna.....the all knowing cheesehead above or below, where ever he, she, it may be at for me being in Springfield.... and for rainin Duff Beer if it isn't too much to ask. Oh and thanks for Marge, Lisa, Maggie.....not so much Bart.

    April 4, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  8. cpc65

    Hmmm. This kinda of sounds like how some other countries are like, oh I don't know, Iran?

    April 4, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • lol??

      lol??
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      Well the nation spent itself into poverty, what did you expect? Debt=slavery...

      April 5, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  9. cpc65

    Something tells me the rest of the Nation would have been better off if we had allowed some of those southern States to sussed from the Union.

    April 4, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  10. truth

    worse than hillbillies,, are religious hillbillies

    April 4, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Sidewinder

      Amen!

      April 4, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Is there another kind?

      April 4, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
  11. James PDX

    So how would NC feel if suddenly SC declared themselves legally a Jewis state? Would they finally catch on if DC jumped in the game and declared Islam to be their offical religion? What complete dopes.

    April 4, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  12. ellid

    *head desk*

    What part of "you can't establish a religion" do these idiots not understand?

    April 4, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • James PDX

      The part they don't like, of course. Who cares that it's one of the founding principles of our country. Declaring America (or any part thereof) to be of a particular religion is akin to America changing to a communist country.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • .

      Gubmint: what lol?? uses to freshen her breath.
      Socie: ??? Haven't figured that out yet. Anyone have a gibberish dictionary?
      Inbred hiller.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • lol??

      lol??
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      Just make a de facto religion and call it gubermint. That's the socie way.....

      April 5, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  13. John

    Nullification! What a great idea! I wonder if it has ever been tried before?!?!

    April 4, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
  14. His panic

    I think they are in a State of total Panic, they must be panicking.

    The US a "christian nation" is total absurdity. 😛 😀 There is no such a thing, there is no Historical precedent, neither Scriptural basis for such an absurd claim and pretense. THE only thing that is christian in this world is the church and nothing else. The church is made up of all peoples who are believers in Christ from all of the earth. What a charade, what a mockery this people are making of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. This is nothing more than another example of false teachers and false doctrines in action.

    They are in a State of Panic. Panic is similar to Hysteria, but hysteria affects mostly women. Panic however affects both men and women, causing them to adopt a herd behavior State of mind. This is a bunch of charlatans, politicians by trade, and we all know what the "Trade" of Politicians is! May God judge this absurd for what it is, a Heretical charade, the product of charlatans who infiltrated the church long ago.

    April 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • truth

      we are a nation of people.. In fact it was secular society that tamed religions. Hadn't we, it'd be like the middle east here – with christians instead of muslims.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • His panic

      @truth,

      Well yeah, this is a nation of people duh! What else could make a nation?

      The real question is; what kind of people? Well by all appearances, the way I see it everyday, all over and all around, it is a nation of Fat people, a nation of gluttons. It could well be a nation of malcontents, a nation of belly aches, a nation of whiners, a nation of complainers, a nation of ingrates, a nation of cry babies, a welfare nation, or a nation of Violent and criminal people. Your choice!

      April 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      His panic

      @truth,

      Well yeah, this is a nation of people duh! What else could make a nation?

      The real question is; what kind of people? Well by all appearances, the way I see it everyday, all over and all around, it is a nation of Fat people, a nation of gluttons. It could well be a nation of malcontents, a nation of belly aches, a nation of whiners, a nation of complainers, a nation of ingrates, a nation of cry babies, a welfare nation, or a nation of Violent and criminal people. Your choice!
      .
      And majority are Christians....what does that tell you

      April 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Sally Hodges

      Hysteria affects mostly women? Then what do you call the condition whereby men declare war with disasterous results for the nations who enter the conflict? Stupidity? Short-sightedness? Impulsive aggression? I rather like the term "mind-numbing testerone-induced hysteria". How does that work for you?

      April 5, 2013 at 5:57 am |
    • His panic

      @Sally,

      Works fine with me Sally! Both men & women are affected by Panic and anger, but Hysteria is "mostly" a-$$ociated with women.

      Some men act hysterical, especially those who are e-ffe-mi-nate. Some women have had to undergo a medical procedure called Hysterectomy a term that arose out of the previous Hysteria and is related to the Uterus. In the XIX c. women were treated for Hysteria with vi-bra-tors, funny huh!

      Ma$$ hysteria and others similar conditions and situations that often lead to stampedes, brawls, herd behavior and riots etc affect both men and women. Testosterone is the hormone that promotes muscle ma$$ development in men and is commonly a$$ociated with aggressiveness in men.

      You may want to do further research on this interesting subject or better yet, consult your Health care professional instead of getting angry and hysterical with me.

      April 5, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • His panic

      @Severe mentally ill,

      Christians are not the majority of the population only the majority within the religious. Many among the majority of the populace, are claiming fraudulently to be "christians", but you can't put the blame on all or on the rest of us for that. You can try all you want, you can throw all the tantrums you want, you can do all the finger pointing you want. But the fact is you are not the one who can throw the first stone to begin with.

      April 5, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, associating hysteria with women is an outdated usage. It was originally considered to be a "woman's affliction" but people eventually realized that it was inaccurate and indeed, rather silly. However, is you wish to use an obsolete definition, you go on right ahead.

      April 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • His panic

      @tallulah13,

      I know is obsolete, however ma$$ hysteria still in use, like what's going on in the Media right now, with the situation in North Korea. That's also been called by some "Political-hysteria".

      Colloquially, in forums and blogs like this it can be use as a way to call the attention of people like you. Is only an opinion of mine, and I have a right to my opinion. There is nothing you can do about that! So don't get hysterical about it!

      April 5, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  15. The Devil

    This is what North Carolina Reps have time to mess with...Seriously? There isn't any other pressing issue in their state? Religion? Really? What's next? Are they gonna tackle the all important issue of team jacob or team edward? Glad I don't live there...

    April 4, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • James PDX

      Last I checked their dual firefighters and paramedics were getting about 23k per year, which is about 1/3 what just a good firefighter or paramedic can make out on the West coast.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • sma89

      I live here, it's not that bad.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  16. truth

    Time to tax religions and their property.. They are leaches. They use our roads, water, police, fire dept,..

    If they were a good citizen, they'd pay their fair share. Tax NFP's too

    April 4, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Centaur12

      Right on! Tax those lying tax frauds! Tax ALL non-profits! Non-Profit does NOT mean no profit. It means no taxes.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  17. Cami

    These two officials have also provided reasoning for legalizing marijuana in their state. Perhaps someone should bring that up for a vote, using the same logic they used for this.

    April 4, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  18. Barbra & Jack Donachy

    This is one reason more and more Americans are turning away from religion. Too many Christians try to force their views on others. It's off-putting to All sensible people.

    April 4, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
  19. WOW

    This on the heels of 2 other Republicans who are trying to introduce a bill that NC now require a 2 year separation before a divorce is final, they are calling it something like the Healthy Marriage Act. They are also suggesting that a married couple go for several counseling sessions and a 4 hour class about how divorce is bad for the family, state and country. There would be NO reason to be excepted from this should it pass.

    I live in NC.......this just blows me away.

    April 4, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • HincEtInde

      You can relax, it will not happen...........

      April 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • midwest rail

      lol?? will never address the fact that contemporary Christians never complained about "government marriages" until it became clear that their clubhouse was not the private domain they once thought.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Jesus freaker

      The Barna Research Group measured divorce statistics by religion. They found that 29 percent of Baptists are divorced (the highest for a US religious group), while only 21 percent of atheists/agnostics were divorced (the lowest).

      April 4, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • midwest rail

      More non-answers from the disingenuous lol??, I'm so surprised.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      Whats the difference between a Liberal and a Conservative?

      Nothing...they both seek power over the people.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      lol??

      Rail, you can rail all you want against hearsay, but the mob won't help you on hearsay judgment day. You will be there all by your lonesome. Standard Hearsay doctrine.
      .

      Yup

      April 4, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Akira

      Worry about your own Judgement day, lol??. You have much to answer for.

      And it's g o v e r n m e n t.
      Retain this for future spellings.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Jesus freaker

      "North Carolina has a very high divorce rate – one of the worst – and it's probably because we've been lax in our divorce laws. Made it too easy," Senator Allran told WRAL.

      Let's see... In New York the waiting period is 3 months. They have the 3rd lowest divorce rate in the country.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • JFCanton

      What does religion necessarily have to do with opposing EZ divorce? It seems fair for the state to demand something in return for giving your relationship tax credits.

      NY has a low divorce rate because it's wealthier. People have more to lose and so don't. The same could be true of the observation about atheist/agnostics: if it's a bigger part of what you are, you ought to be expected to take it more seriously.

      April 4, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      JFCanton

      What does religion necessarily have to do with opposing EZ divorce? It seems fair for the state to demand something in return for giving your relationship tax credits.
      .
      And what business is to you, the government or anybody else what 2 adults decide to do????????

      April 4, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • lol??

      lol??
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      Gubermints or churches don't marry people. Get the pharisees out of it. They skim too much...

      April 5, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  20. Diraphe

    *Facepalm*
    Both parties are run by people with the IQ of a Nematode....

    April 4, 2013 at 4:49 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.