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. Colin

    Every heard of a state being called intelligent or well informed when it tried to impose the Christian religion. Ever wondered why it is always knuckly dragging simpletons from Mississippi, Alabama, the Carolinas or Kansas who wish to enshrine the Christian religion in law. Ever wonder why religion is uniformly associated with backwardness and a lack of intelligence? Every wondered why the three greatest intellectual movements in human history – the the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment – are all defined by their rejection of religious dogma?

    The simpler and less intelligent a person or society is, the more inclined they are to believe in the Christian sky-fairy and his host of heavenly characters.

    April 4, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • fred

      “The simpler and less intelligent a person or society is, the more inclined they are to believe in the Christian sky-fairy and his host of heavenly characters.”

      =>How does that match up with America being the greatest superpower ever known to mankind?

      April 4, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Colin

      America is militarily strong despite, not because of its religiosity. Its military power comes directly from its science and technology (think drones, smart bombs, atom bomb, etc.). Approximately 95% of the members of the American Academy of Scientists and 97% of its British equivalent, The Royal Society, identify as atheists. Between them, they represent the world's most eminent scientists and thinkers and are on the cutting edge of our advancement as a sp.ecies. It seems clear that the more one understands the natural world, the less inclined one is to believe in a god, be it the Judo-Christian god or some other ridiculous being.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • ...

      @fred The US isn't respected because of our religion. If that were true, then all countries with Christians would be superpowers. Learn your history.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • ed

      "America being the greatest superpower "

      that was a limited trial offer

      April 4, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      NOW, watch as the amazing fred spins like a fucking top to not respond to anything posted, and post a rambling, irrelevant response full of stupidity!
      Either that or he'll just run away like the coward he really is.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • fred

      Go figure, the United States had the largest population of Christians in the world in the mid 1990’s with 224 million. The percentage has dropped from 86% Christian at the peak of our world dominance down to 78% today. OMG our world dominance has dropped at the same rate. Looks the inverse or your post is the reality Colin.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      April 4, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • notogop

      Fred, here's an interesting coincidence. In 313 AD, Constantine the Great of Rome issued the Edict of Milan legalizing Christianity in the Roman Empire and more or less making it the State religion. The Empire's Fall is dated to about 476 AD. After the Church took over things really started going downhill. You can read what the Catholic Church did in the following years. The bottom line, theocracies are not good.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • fred

      "We found the highest percentage of belief among NAS mathematicians (14.3% in God)" according to Larson and Witham.
      I think this proves that atheistic beliefs do not add up !
      Actually, it may have more to do with the mathematical improbability that we could exist in the first place than the naturalism of the other fields in the survey

      April 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Wooo more spin. Tell me, does your dishonesty know any limits?

      April 4, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • fred

      I was just joking about the numbers not adding up. However, the soft sciences have always had a greater number of non believers.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • Shi!tiswati

      US is one of the powerful nations in the world, it is because of the majority atheists like you that are smart. Oh yes, Colin I can kiss your a r s e when it suits me.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Do you have a point? "Oh this number of mathematicians are believers". How does this is any way back up your point earlier in the thread?
      That's right, it doesn't, it's merely another irrelevant post to avoid addressing points or defending positions that you can't defend.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • fred

      NOBEL SCIENTISTS (20th – 21st Century) Nobel Laureates and Other Great Scientists Who Believe in God
      Max PLANCK – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      . Erwin SCHROEDINGER – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      . Werner HEISENBERG – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      . Robert MILLIKAN – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      . Charles TOWNES – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      . Arthur SCHAWLOW – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      William PHILLIPS – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      William BRAGG – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      . Guglielmo MARCONI – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      . Arthur COMPTON – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      . Arno PENZIAS – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      . Nevill MOTT – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      . Isidor Isaac RABI – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      . Abdus SALAM – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      . Antony HEWISH – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      . Joseph H. TAYLOR, Jr. – Nobel Laureate in Physics
      . Alexis CARREL – Nobel Laureate in Medicine and Physiology
      . John ECCLES – Nobel Laureate in Medicine and Physiology
      . Joseph MURRAY – Nobel Laureate in Medicine and Physiology
      Ernst CHAIN – Nobel Laureate in Medicine and Physiology
      . George WALD – Nobel Laureate in Medicine and Physiology
      . Ronald ROSS – Nobel Laureate in Medicine and Physiology
      . Derek BARTON – Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
      . Christian ANFINSEN – Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
      . Walter KOHN – Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
      Richard SMALLEY – Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

      April 4, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • Fred is lying with facts and figures again

      Fred “NOBEL SCIENTISTS (20th – 21st Century) Nobel Laureates and Other Great Scientists Who Believe in God”...
      There were over 300 winners of the science Nobel in that time period, so about 7% of them were theists

      April 5, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  2. hah

    Guess they may as well rename their state to North Mississippi

    April 4, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  3. tandy

    I'm all for a state religion as long as it isn't Christianity.

    April 4, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
  4. vinnie

    I'm supposed to go to NC on business next month. Guess I'd better check NY Dept of Health site and see what kind of shots I'm going to need.

    April 4, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  5. Iran

    Don't worry North Carolina! Iran supports your effort to declare an official state religion!

    April 4, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • His panic

      You know, your main man there Mahmud Ahmanidejab? He is in a State of total Panic. You know why? Because I'am his panic.

      April 4, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  6. CF

    Oh, that's not even the beginning of it here. A council member in Salisbury decided that because he didn't notice a local change in weather from library records, that there was no global warming.

    April 4, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  7. SkyCakeWorshipper

    "Oh Sky Cake why are you so delicious?!" – Patton Oswalt

    April 4, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • CF

      Blasphemy! Spaghetti monster is the only true god.(or not, depending on your pirate tendencies)

      April 4, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
  8. Sally Hodges

    •“I still say a church steeple with a lightning rod on top shows a lack of confidence. – Doug McLeod

    Read more about 153 Atheist Quotes by Famous Persons by http://www.poemofquotes.com

    April 4, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • CF

      Religious people still look both ways before crossing the road. – Hawking

      April 4, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • lol??

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      What's with the women demanding a steeple anyway? They like bats???

      April 5, 2013 at 9:08 am |
  9. justpaul

    While I do not support this move, there is nothing in it that necessarily violates the first amendment, which says that CONGRESS shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof. It doesn't say jack about the States not doing so, nor is North Carolina proposing to do either. There is nothing in that bill that sets out to establish a state religion, or to deny anyone the ability to practice their own faith as they see fit. On the contrary, it sets out to guarantee that people can in fact exercise their faith as they wish, even when they are taking part in a civic event or obligation.

    April 4, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Sean

      Educate thyself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incorporation_of_the_Bill_of_Rights

      Spoilers: Yes, the 1st applies to states too.

      April 4, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Jagged

      Awesome, wish I said that.

      April 4, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Altreg01

      Nothing like a little American Taliban poking their heads up again.

      April 4, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • James Madison

      Thank you, Sean.

      April 4, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  10. frank

    This of course has no chance. But it does give everyone else now time to find out what idiots put these congressmen up to this.

    April 4, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  11. demogal

    Watch out, North Carolina, people will begin to think you are as crazy as that Carolina to the south of you!

    April 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  12. OldSchool

    American Taliban

    April 4, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  13. Kormallain

    And so the death of true freedom begins.

    April 4, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  14. Racist Rebel Republican

    The libturds wouldn't mind if Islam was being pushed by the state. The the marxist left would consider that "diversity and multiculturalism" while any mention whatsoever of Christianity must be shut down. The left has declared war on the White Race and our White Christian civilization.

    April 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • Kormallain

      No sir, us libtards know the importance of separation of church and state. You, an obviously much smarter person then us libtards, do not.

      April 4, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  15. Doh

    Wait, what other country has an official state religion? Oh, that's right, Iran. Apparently, NC thinks Iran has some good ideas.

    April 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
  16. Shout-Out: TheBibleReloaded


    April 4, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  17. Ringo

    Maybe NC could change their license plate moto to "Convert or Die"

    April 4, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
  18. ...

    So Iran gets a Muslim theocracy, and now we get a Christian theocracy. Next thing you know, we're going to have our own Christian version of sharia laws.

    April 4, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Kelcy

      Well, that is what they are saying after all.....only recognize laws they "believe" consistent with their Bible.

      Now the question we should ask is whether that means all non-christian christians must emigrate.....you know, catholics, mormons, etc.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • We already do

      It’s called the old testament and it has all 613 of the Chris-sharia laws including “do not boil a babe goat in its mothers milk”

      April 5, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  19. Bhawk

    NC must live in a different country–maybe they should all be exported to somewhere–moon seems best

    April 4, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  20. t3chn0ph0b3

    You have every right to be a disgusting bigot. This is America, and you're allowed to believe what you want to believe.

    However, when you attempt to legislate from the bible, you run afoul of the consti_tution, and any talk you spew about your first and second amendment rights goes right out the window. At that point, you stop being an American and start becoming an Iranian hardliner, or at least a ridiculous, pathetic sham of an excuse for an American.

    April 4, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Jagged

      We the people.
      People should not fear the government, the government should fear the people.
      If enough people in N.C. want a state religion, they should have it, by vote.
      It ain't none of your business.
      The majority wins in America.
      A majority of idiots who like to eat crap?
      Well, (insert long pause) they win.
      (Looks at the freaks)
      We have become a nation of freaks, butt licking' freaks.
      There, I said it.

      April 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • whoa

      "All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression." -Thomas Jefferson

      April 4, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • Jagged

      Thomas J. was a liberal, and liked his dark meat, which, I do too.
      Well said.
      (Back at yeah)
      "will of the majority is in all cases to prevail"
      Welcome to freak-ville, can I see your passport?

      April 4, 2013 at 8:03 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.