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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. Mike G.

    Send all these ultra religious kooks over to the middle east where they belong and good riddance!!. We don't need them imposing on everybody else's lives here.

    April 4, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Just Me

      What needs to be done is send all the atheists closed minded fools to go out and create their own nation/country and let's see how they'll survive because after all, atheists use our currency money that declares IN GOD WE TRUST.

      April 4, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • srichey321

      @just you. Oh wow. I almost told you to go to "you know where"..... Well played sir, well played..

      April 4, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • sam

      @ Just Me – are you serious, fool? Some douchebag idiots put that nonsense on the money back in the 50's to try to make it look like the US was serious about driving off the commies. Damn, get an education.

      April 4, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Paul

      I mostly use my debit card, it says VISA on it.

      April 5, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • tallulah13

      Mine says "Master Card". Do you suppose christians think it is evil for claiming to be the Master?

      April 5, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  2. Darwin

    Where was JESUS' when all those CHILDREN in Newtown were MURDERED? Jesus had the power to stop the massacre and HE DID NOTHING! Who would ever want to worship such a cruel and hateful God?

    April 4, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • Jesus freaker

      "An atheist, not God, did that."

      Maybe, I don't know. One thing for certain though, it was all part of God's plan.

      April 4, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • okaySURE

      I think God stops most things like that from happening but think about it. If God stopped all our evil ways from doing any harm we wouldn't know anything was wrong or right in the first place. The horrible affects of our sin show us how horrible sin is.

      April 4, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • midwest rail

      " The socie solution is to give up guns (to them). "
      Delusional idiocy. I'd ask you to cite any reputable news source showing that guns will be confiscated, but you'd deflect anyway. You truly are insane.

      April 4, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • lol??

      lol??
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      Get real, Dahhhwwin. The kid didn't handle his parents gubmint controlled marriage very well. The socie solution is to give up guns (to them)...

      April 5, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  3. North & South

    Try getting the Carolinas to join up and what a better place to test the effects of drones dropping hydrogen bombs "I'll be seeing you...from Dr. Strangelove.....

    April 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • DougNJ

      N n S, a great movie, and a very fitting song for WW2.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:24 am |
  4. James Madison

    You are quite correct, Agnes of Dog. The rumbling beneath the ground you heard today was me farting in the direction of North Carolina.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  5. dsgusted1

    LMAO. Joe the plumber has the republicans pegged right'

    April 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  6. Chris

    I live in this state. Everything is fine (please help me). We all love and support this (we don't). Please do not be alarmed, we have no intention of imposing religious law on the entire country through a series... (Oh no, I've said too much...)

    April 4, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • sam

      Russ, is that the best troll impression you can do?

      April 4, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • OH OH

      Chris
      The smoke you smell is from the cross burning on your lawn...DO NOT call the fire department, they are all good old boys in the after hours roadhouse.

      April 4, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
  7. Jon C

    So, to get there way, they are advocating the overthrow of the U.S. Government. Sound like a bunch of Commies to me. They should be arrested for Treason.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • joseph C

      Communists dont have religion tard

      April 4, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
  8. Rodboy

    We already have a state and nationa;l religion – it is called atheism.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • JWT

      And yet atheism is not a religion.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  9. ed dugan

    Nothing, absolutely nothing is beyond the stupid reasoning of christians.They represent a belief filled with BS,hate and tunnel vision. These jerks in NC ought to be thrown out of office now! I know it won't stand up to any court challenge but they are disgusting the nation with their pathetic antics.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • vinster76

      what's disgusting is your foolish comment............I never quite get over the tolerance atheists exhibit when people of faith, any faith, express it.....your hostility is showing.......

      April 4, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • sam

      Rodboy or vinster...can't decide who's dumber. May need to flip a coin.

      April 4, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
  10. Elliot Werner

    Should have let them secede.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      That's what I say. Let's the idiots that voted these idiots in stay there with them and let's see how they all get by without any fed support. Lol.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • joseph C

      please and us in texas too.. we dont want any part of this sick athiest american society

      April 4, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • sam

      joseph, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Texas is the asscrack of the nation anyway.

      April 4, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • Paul

      Why let Texas leave when we could just sell it back to Mexico and make some quick cash?

      April 5, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  11. Agnes of Dog

    EnLGHT?? Are you supposed to be the Christian country rap-singing version of Yanni?

    April 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      LOL – oh looks like poster "EnLGHT" got too much bad press from other viewers. (Mine was a reply; lol.)

      April 4, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  12. steve-0

    Keep voting Republican dummies. They are going to take women's right to vote and start enslaving blacks again. The American Taliban is in full swing

    April 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • vinster76

      wow Steve-O, you actually write with a straight face.............almost Neanderthal like........

      April 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  13. Joe Plumber

    Hi – I am a republican and I like to lose votes. I hate immigrants, the gays, Obamacare and women's reproductive rights. Are you still with me? I call myself a fiscal conservative who wants to get rid of big government – but every time I get into office I triple the deficit and add trillions to the national debt. I hate China but I can't stop buying all the junk they make for us at Walmart. More? OK – I think that almost half of the country are lazy trolls on welfare and food stamps while they drive Cadillacs and watch flat screen tv's. I am a Christian, but I don't go to church and I don't follow 80% of what the Bible says.

    Please (don't) vote for me!

    April 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Louiethelooper

      Hi Dad, I thought you only went to Fox News website?

      April 4, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  14. Lloy Kalispell, MT

    Would have thought these brilliant patriots might have proposed NASCAR as state religion. In Earnhardts' name Amen/

    April 4, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  15. rolick

    Could you imagine the trouble that a law like this would cause if it could actually pass? Assuming that it could, what would be the next step? What kind of Christianity would be the predominate one? There would be so much fighting over who were the "true Christians". So say there are mostly blue skinned colored people in a state, should a state be able to declare that blue is the official skin color? No, because that would be creating a second class of citizen, blues and non blues. Would it be right for elected officials to say up with the blue people at the end of their official government hearings? No, because they serve all of the people, not just the majority or those that they like and are aligned with.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  16. SFRose

    I lived in Utah for nine years. They had a lot of laws regarding morality, but they didn't need any for requiring a state religion;
    it was just taken for granted.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Good thing since religion and morality have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

      April 4, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  17. religions are kids playing make believe

    christianity on the decline in the us,, a few more generations and it will fall close to extinction. Those future generations will laugh at today's christians for sure

    April 4, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  18. Truthteller

    The American Taliban (GOP) raises its Ugly Head once again. The only difference between the GOP and the Taliban, is the type of Religion they want to force on you.

    April 4, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  19. JoAnn

    Are you crazy ?

    April 4, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  20. Rolph

    You can thank Jerry Fallwell, Carl Rove, the Tea Party and all senior members of the Repukes. These people want to live in 1950.
    They want us all to be god fearing Christians
    ban books kill women's and minority rights
    protect rich people and spend all our capital on military objects. In other words they are
    CRAZY !!!!!' Bat sh't people. I sincerely hope middle America wakes up before its too late

    April 4, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
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About this blog

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.