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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. Shawn

    Zero chance of happening. This is nothing but political smoke and mirrors for these politicians' voter base: The simple and the uneducated.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
  2. TexInd

    The more the GOP opens their mouth; the better America's future looks! They have damaged the brand so beyond repair that most of America is just watching the fun waiting for them to drink the Kook-Aid to get out of the hole the have dug!

    April 4, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      Stuff it, idiot. For those who don't know, the BB village idiot thinks anything outside of its compound is gay, commie and probably a woman.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • uhhhh

      Holy mixed metaphors!

      April 4, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      (My aim was directed at the lol?? idiot.)

      April 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • lol??

      lol??
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      Doesn't really matter. Banana republic here we IS...

      April 5, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  3. Agnes of Dog

    Still more rumbling I'm hearing out there? No, not another Virginia earthquake. It's just James Madison, father of the Constitution farting in disgust. And he is aiming at fundiots south of the Virginia border.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
  4. Matt

    I would like to know if anyone has any PHYSICAL proof that ANY religion in the world is correct? Until someone comes up with physical proof then all religions are merely cults.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • JFCanton

      The difficulty with that criterion is that it also makes modern physicists a cult, so we haven't really gotten anywhere. And what do we do with Buddhists? Better to accept that some things are undefinable and not claim any special degree of enlightenment.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  5. brian

    This is the state where "Christian" fanatics still handle snakes.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I think that's more a West Virginia thing though there may be a few in the mountains.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Science

      brian

      NC and SC plastic heaven land of the mini golf ?

      April 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Try looking it up... it's Penecostals doign this (not generally), and it started in and is most notoriously known in Tennessee (courtesy of Menckhen from a side trip on the way to the Scopes trial). The Wikipedia article doesn't reference either Carolina.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  6. Larry

    They really are psychotic neurotics aren't they? Jesus is just alright with me and I am sick to death of Republicans

    April 4, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  7. EuphoriCrest

    The party of stupid just lost a few more IQ points.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  8. lucianne

    We should have let this part of the country go when we had the chance.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Where would Yankees retire/flee to, then? And I'm sure they'd be selling oil and gas at a markup...

      April 4, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  9. Shel in Georgja

    These people are waging a major effort to destroy our form of government, freedom of religion, and civil order. Unbelievable.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Go look up the "Wedge Doc ument".

      This is all part of the plan.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Science

      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

      Same neck of the woods?

      April 4, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Dover is a township (I think) near York, PA. So no, not really, unless one's intent is to see shadows everywhere.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  10. Sane Person

    Wow. I would expect this on the Onion. Every time I think the repubs have sunk as low as they are going to, they prove me wrong.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • The Eternal Satyr

      The Onion is a more reliable source of news than CNN could ever hope to be.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • S. Dabby

      Please, Please - respect the freedom of Republicans to self destruct.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  11. sparky

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

    Gee, who would have guessed that it would be Republicans doing this?

    Way to go. They're turning people into Democrats by the truckload. Kiss the 2014 and 2016 elections goodbye.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Pepperpot Waitress

      If they've resolved to make North Carolina an even more ignorant State, they've succeeded.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  12. Answer

    Pray harder. Pray longer.

    Your god is ignoring you. Your god is deaf. Try screaming. XD

    April 4, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
  13. SixDegrees

    Kinda nice to hear that this will die in committee. But frankly, I wouldn't mind seeing it go to the floor for a vote. There's no chance it would pass, but it would be interesting to see just how close or lopsided the vote actually turned out.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Franklin

      We had a similar motion up here in Canada a few months back. A Conservative MP wanted to reopen the debate on when life begins. MPs were allowed to vote on it and an amazingly high number voted to support it. It was done just to please supporters, and he didn't get nearly enough support, but it was pretty scary. The guy's appealing, so I wouldn't wish for anything to "play out" if I were you.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Why would you say "amazingly?" Canada's applicable law technically permits (those perhaps other laws affect) abortion after viability, which would not be kosher in most, if any, of Europe.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
  14. Andy H.

    No, this is not a christian nation. Go shove your religion down each other's throats & leave the rest of us sane people alone. Thanks! 🙂

    April 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • fred

      It is in fact a nation of Christians

      April 4, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • midwest rail

      No, fred, it is a secular nation where Christianity is the predominant religion. A subtle, but important, distinction.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • sam

      Fred, you're wrong. But tell yourself whatever makes you happy.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • Rick

      The US is no more a Christian nation than a Dalmatian is a "white" dog. It's mostly Christian, but it's the different faith "spots" that give the nation it's character. 🙂

      April 4, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I'll meet you halfway and say "A secular nation made up of people who mostly self-identify as Christian together with smaller but growing numbers of people of other beliefs." That said, many of those who self-identify as Christian actually have beliefs that include broad elements of other religious beliefs, including groups like Christian Scientists who are more eastern in their belief origin than Christian.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • fred

      Ok, I will split the difference; We are a nation with a minority population of non believers.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Andy K.

      79.5% Christian, and lduckily God rounds up! Christian nation, go USA!

      April 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  15. RachaelA

    Most people who commented on a local story here in Raleigh about this all said the same thing – why are we wasting time on this and thank goodness it is now a dead issue.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Gwtheyrn

      Then please answer me this question, because I've wondered about this for so long.

      How can a state with THREE world class universities be filled with so many stupid, ignorant, backwards people?

      April 4, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  16. Phil in KC

    So we're going to protect our 2nd Amendment rights, but we can ignore that 'freedom of religion' thing? Talk about twisted...

    April 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
  17. The Way Back Machine

    The amazing thing is that so many people don't see how they are being obviously exploited by these scumbar politicians. The proposal is impossible and the proposers know it. They are just chumming up division and hatred that they can exploit.

    There must be a lot of rubes in North Carolina for this to have any traction at all.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Gwtheyrn

      There are. The state is chock full of more ignorant people than I've ever seen in my life. Visit the state of NC at some point. You'll never have faith in your fellow man again.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  18. who you calling big nose?

    NC just keeps making me proud...
    (sarcasm)

    April 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  19. religions are kids playing make believe

    look at me god.. I'm protecting you, jesus and religion from the atheists.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Gotta earn those brownie points for God(s)!

      April 4, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
  20. jed clampett

    As a citizen of Arizona, I really appreciate North Carolina stepping forward to make our conservatives look less crazy. You guys knocked it out of the park.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • stw

      I agree ...so why don't they just call it what it is...middle ages with the inquisition...cant believe somebody elected these pea brains

      April 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • MesaMom

      I was thinking the same thing. Got attention away from that stupid bathroom law.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • Joey

      Too funny! I left Arizona & now am in North Carolina ... never thought I would want to go back!

      April 4, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Saraswati

      An interesting twist on the bathroom policy from Thailand:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7529227.stm

      April 4, 2013 at 6:12 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.