Republican North Carolina state legislators have proposed a bill that would allow the state to establish a state religion and further declares the state exempt from the Constitution and court rulings. What is astonishing is that eleven GOP members are pushing the law, which rejects not just the core principles of our country but would move the state closer to the model of government currently ripping Egypt and other nations apart in mixing religion and government. The main sponsors, state Reps. Carl Ford (R-China Grove) and Harry Warren (R-Salisbury), seem to have little more judgment than they do knowledge of our Constitutional system. Obviously, the law is facially unconstitutional but it is the contempt for our separation of church and state that is truly unnerving in these members.
The sponsors insist that as a sovereign state, North Carolina cannot be barred from establishing an official religion. The bill reads as follows:
SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.
SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.
This is part of a belief that the First Amendment only applies to the federal government. Under this theory, the rights of free speech, free press, assembly, and religion can be denied by states. Notably, North Carolina’s Constitution still prohibits people who do not believe in God from taking public office.
Ford attended a Community College in 1978 and has a high school degree. He is described as “Broadcaster, owns two Gospel music stations.” He stated his priority is “Anything having to do with pro-life” followed by transportation. He also stressed that “I just read we moved up in the rankings and I know the per pupil spending is pretty high.” So he wants to cut back on public education, which may be a good reason for a state religion to start praying for the future of the state in a competitive global market.
Warren has a degree from Kent State University, 1972. Warren worked as a Human Resources Specialist for Tar Heel Capital Corp., one of the largest Wendy’s restaurant franchises.
63 thoughts on “North Carolina Legislation Would Allow Establishment Of State Religion”
Regarding Amazon links: It is not the fact you linked to a book that gets a comment sent to moderation. It appears that Amazon has multiple embedded links within their pages, and WordPress has a problem with that. That is the problem with linking to many commercial sites. I have not tried Barnes & Noble, but suspect the same thing will happen with a link to one of their books as well.
Jefferson’s statute was about the free exercise of religion or not. It wasnt about the state denying religious freedom in the name of freedom. The founders would have been all for a religious display in the public square as long as it wasnt sponsored (paid for by the state).
Now I will admit that includes all mono and polytheistic religions and atheism.
That’s not making your case. That’s referencing a book you probably don’t understand in the proper context. Do you know the evolution of the 1st Amendment before it was enacted on September, 25, 1789? I can give you several draft versions of it as it relates to religion and none of them back your case that the legislative history was “unsettled”.
“The Civil Rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, nor on any pretext infringed. No state shall violate the equal rights of conscience or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases.” Proposed by James Madison, June, 7, 1789.
“No religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed,” Proposed in the House Select Committee, July 28, 1789.
“Congress shall make no laws touching religion, or infringing the rights of conscience.” Proposed by Samuel Livermore, August 15, 1789.
“Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience.” Proposed by Fisher Ames in the House, August 20, 1789.
“Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Initial Senate proposal, September 3, 1789.
“Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion.” Final Senate proposal, September 9, 1789.
The final wording of the 1st Amendment was ratified by the States in 1791.
Your homework is to further investigate the origins of the 1st Amendment’s Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses by studying the law it was based upon, Thomas Jefferson’s “A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom” written in 1777, initially rejected by Virginia in 1779 (which at that time endorsed Anglicanism as the official state religion), before being passed with some minor amendments as shepherded through the Virginia legislature by James Madison on January, 16, 1785 while Jefferson was away busy with his duties as Ambassador to France.
It seems a link to Amazon will get a comment deleted on this blog. In any event, the casebook I linked to is “Religion and the Constitution” by McConnell (though I somehow doubt anyone will bother).
Thanks for the chuckle and the update.
“We didn’t intend for the T-rex to kill a bunch of people, we just wanted to bring it to San Diego.”
Sure you did Warren. Sure you did.
“North Carolina House Speaker Kills Bill To Create State Religion”
The Huffington Post | By John Celock Posted: 04/04/2013 4:12 pm EDT | Updated: 04/04/2013 4:33 pm EDT
“The Republican speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives killed legislation on Thursday that aimed to establish an official state religion.
House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Charlotte) announced Thursday afternoon that the bill would not be receiving a vote in the full House, effectively dropping the measure. Loretta Boniti, a reporter for News 14 Carolina, broke the news on Twitter, and it was confirmed in a breaking news alert posted on the home page of wral.com, a Raleigh-based television station. Tillis’ decision followed several days of national media attention on the bill, which also said that the state government did not have to listen to federal court rulings and was exempt from the requirements of the First Amendment.
The bill, which was drafted by state Reps. Carl Ford (R-China Grove) and Harry Warren (R-Salisbury), was intended to address an issue in Rowan County, where the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the county commission in an attempt to block commissioners from having a Christian prayer at the beginning of meetings.
The North Carolina measure responds to the ACLU suit by declaring that each state is “sovereign” and no federal court can prevent a state from “from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.” Though Warren, one of the bill’s authors, told HuffPost Live that the measure was not seeking to create a state religion, the drafted legislation would clearly allow for such an action.” …article continues.
“The excesses of fundamentalism … are American and Israeli, as well as the all-too-obvious depredations of radical Islam. The rapture, end-times, and Armageddon hucksters in the United States rank with any Shiite ayatollahs, and the last two presidential elections mark the transformation of the GOP into the first religious party in U.S. history.” — Kevin Phillips, American Theocracy: the Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century (2006)
The Republican Party does not want any separation of Church and State because the Republican Party thinks it can win national and state elections by unifying the Church (one they approve) and State — much as Emperor Constantine did nearly seventeen centuries ago — thereby placing the State’s monopoly of violence and above-the-law impunity of corporate elites at the service of those who proclaim their religion and political party the only true and acceptable one.
So much for the United States of America as a “developed” and/or “advanced” nation. Radical Political Religion has gotten loose in America — again — which recrudescent reactionary recidivism leads me to discourse in verse upon:
“… several changes in the wording of the drafts of the Establishment Clause are completely without explanation.” — Josh
“It is no explanation at all of a fact to pronounce it inexplicable.” — Charles Sanders Peirce
Aside from the dialectical invalidity of arguing from ignorance — i.e., “we don’t know that Saddam Hussein has WMD or ties to Al-Qaeda, therefore let us conclude that he has” — the word “draft” means that a written composition has not reached a level of intellectual or literary competence that would justify its publication. So who would bother to explain sloppy or ineffectually written drafts when calling attention to such deficiencies would only bring embarrassment and discredit upon anyone who had seriously considered such rubbish in the first place?
I just cited an entire textbook, Gene. There are over 120 pages of historical material included therein. I’ll wait for you to get back with your thoughts on those materials.
One can only conclude the current elected officials are unfit to serve out their terms.
The North Carolina Constitution:
Sec. 13. Religious liberty.
All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.
If the government imposes religion on it’s citizens, are the citizens really expressing the free will of God? If one has true religious faith, they don’t need the government to force them to do it – they do it freely. If the government forces it onto it’s citizens it’s not genuine worship. Only when religion is used as a weapon and to exercise control over others does the government need to impose religion on it’s citizens – that is the case here in North Carolina – the church is assuming the role of the government itself.
Me thinks someone is trying to change history again.
you can still have such warm feelings about China Girl.
(and who could blame you. Asian women are lovely)
Then prove your case, Josh. As for the “unexplained revisions”? That’s what is known as irrelevant because the wording I’m relying on is what was ratified. I can give you more Madison . . .
“If the Church of England had the established and general religion in all the northern colonies as it has been among us here, and uninterrupted tranquility had prevailed throughout the continent, it is clear to me that slavery and subjugation might and would have been gradually insinuated among us. Union of religious sentiments begets a surprising confidence, and ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption; all of which facilitates the execution of mischievous projects.” – Letter to William Bradford, 1774.
Some Franklin . . .
“When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, ‘tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.” – Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Richard Price. dated October 9, 1790.
Some Paine . . .
“Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law.” – Thomas Paine, The Age Of Reason
Some Jefferson . . . and, well, you get the idea. I can provide cites from a wide variety of the Founders all expressing the same sentiment all day. Namely that they thought the separation of church and state was not only a good idea, but of critical importance. Madison himself considered the issue paramount. There is good reason it is the 1st Amendment, not the 1st Suggestion.
Also consider another very specific provision in the Constitution that indicates the validity and clear nature of the Separation of Church and State:
“The senators and representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Article VI, Section 3, The Constitution of the United States.
These “selective quotations” are what as known as cites to proof. In this instance, proof of what the Founders intended by the actually rather clear and unambiguous language of the 1st Amendment as ratified.
When you get some, instead of your as yet unfounded and apparently legally and factually ignorant opinion, get back to me. Unless the facts have your tongue. There is nothing unclear here. Even your attempt to revise history is clear as crystal.
There is no debate about the Doctrine of Separation of Church and State among serious legal scholars. It’s a well settled and thoroughly discussed issue. But if you’d like to present your proof to the contrary?
Be my guest.
Gene, your selective quotation from the individual writings of Madison (the most ardent separationist of the founding fathers) does not address the fact that several changes in the wording of the drafts of the Establishment Clause are completely without explanation. The legislative history is indeed quite unclear, which is certainly historically and culturally interesting. Quoting the most famous Revolutionary-era separationist hardly resolves this matter.
North Carolina is one of the only states (left) where a spouse can sue the other spouse’s lover for the harm done by that lover. It must be so wonderful to live in a place with such very nice, God fearing and morally righteous Christians. I wonder how Jewish people there (are there any?) feel about this; I can imagine what any Muslims feel about it just fine. Upon my return from Afghanistan a few years ago I thought I’d left behind the worse of religious hypocrisy and malfeasance but boy, was I wrong! I’m about to develop a persecution phobia just reading about these kind of Christian conservatives in the article. I think I may need to rethink the power of praying…
Put a turban on their heads and their words would be considered religious extremism, Taliban style. What’s next in NC? Biblical law? Seven Laws of Noah? The more I hear and see from these Christian nut jobs, the more they appear to act like those they detest most – non Christians…..
Great song clip. The Doobie Brothers are one of my favorites!
Pete: Or Arizona.
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