Wednesday, April 3, 2013

An official North Carolina state religion?

At first we thought this was an April Fool's joke. But WRAL filed its report on April 2, not April 1, so, sad to say, we are not making this up. Check out this lead of WRAL's story on a bill filed in North Carolina's legislature this week:

"A bill filed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights, and seeks to nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide."

The legislation from Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford, both Rowan County Republicans, declares that the states can decide how to apply the U.S. Constitution.

"Each state in the union is sovereign and may independently determine how that state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion," the bill says. It adds: "... the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion."

The bill also says North Carolina will not recognize federal court rulings regarding the establishment of an official state religion.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution begins: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." That speaks to what a fundamental value freedom of religion was to the Founding Fathers.

Warren and Ford rely on the Tenth Amendment, which says powers not granted to the federal government are reserved to the states. WRAL points out that this tactic, known as nullification, was tried unsuccessfully to defy the Emancipation Proclamation.

We've seen some crazy things from this legislature, but House Joint Resolution 494 might take the cake. Wait a minute; now that we look more closely, we see the bill was filed on April 1. Surely it's an April Fool's prank after all.

-- Taylor Batten

16 comments:

Adolf said...

First, States cannot defy the Federal Law. Who gave Rowan County Republicans the right to choose a religion for the people of North Carolina? Third, why are Rowan County Republicans wasting our time with this ridiculous legislation? Don't they have real issues to put forth?

Pete said...

Not only is it defying federal law, it is defying CONSTITUTIONAL law. The highest law in the land! The State GOP has taken their reign so far beyond anything that is reasonable, I think they are handing the next election to the Democrats on a silver platter. They have only themselves to blame if the Democrats get another 100 years in power.

jdshaw said...

This is so embarrassing. We are the butt of media jokes throughout the country. There are over 10,000 negative comments in the Huffington Post story. I'm ashamed to live in North Carolina.

kantstanzya said...

Call me cynical but I doubted that Mr. Batten gave us a completely unbiased accounting of what transpired. In fact his accounting is eerily similar to the rendition put out by the Daily Kos hours before. So I read the actual bill in its entirety.

The key wording of the bill is in the first paragraph where the sponsors repeat the Establishment Clause of the Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an Establishment of Religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Then they go on to make their case that the federal courts cannot prevent the individual states from freely exercising religion. Reasonable people can argue the efficacy of that opinion one way or the other.

The context of all this, also conveniently left out by Mr. Batten, must be kept in mind. These Rowan lawmakers are reacting to an ACLU lawsuit to prohibit Rowan County from opening up their county meetings with a simple prayer. They are not concerned with "establishing" a religion as they are in the right to "exercise" one as they have always done.

I will admit that section 1 and section 2 of the bill are flawed in that they include the wording about "establishing a religion" without going on to include the second part of the sentence from the Constitution "prohibiting the free exercise of" one as they did in the opening. This allows the left to cherry pick and give the bill the worst possible interpretation which not surprisingly they are quite anxious to do.

I don't know what the prayer is that Rowan County uses that has the ACLU up in arms. But we know it wouldn't take much. A mention of "God" would do it. One left wing site claims over 90% of the prayers delivered are "Christian Prayers". I don't know exactly what that means either. But I have no doubt 90% of Rowan County would consider themselves "Christian" anyway.

The wording in this bill could have been much better. As a result it has given the left the chance as usual to detract from the real issues...that most people want the right to open up their meetings with a simple prayer which should not be offensive to anyone... except those intentionally looking to be offended... just as the Supreme Court and the Congress does....without an international incident being made of it. They are able to inoculate the left from an obvious pettiness that few would would support with a charge that the conservatives are proposing something completely crazy.

As usual in this Obama driven age of non stop campaigning it is only another example of something that is great for politics but lousy for intelligent discourse on anything.

Aubrey Moore said...

In response to Kantstanzya, your last line condemns you in that you think that what you have written is intelligent discourse. Intelligent discourse would divorce the writer from a pre-position that tells all others that you have no interest in intelligent discourse. You write that "most people want to open up their meetings with a simple prayer which should not be offensive to anyone" supposing that,first of all, the meeting belongs to them, which it does not, and second, that a simple public prayer would not be offensive to anyone, when you know that if the prayer mentioned Allah, it would cease to be simple to you.

We have more than sufficiently litigated what religious practices are allowable in government bodies, and which ones are not, and this proposal crosses the line established by many court decisions. That is really not arguable. Your use of percentages are an affront to any thinking person and quite frankly any American patriot. We promised the protection of 100% of the citizens, not 90%.

Finally, to end your little attempt at reason, you choose to qualify your words with an anti-Obama slur, the surest sign that you have no intent of being intelligent or reasonable.

WashuOtaku said...

I am going to assume that this bill will not be taken seriously at all and will die in committee. This is a bad as the Mississippi bill that wanted to nullify any federal laws they don't agree with. The GOP needs to crack the whip on these representatives that are just making a mockery of the system.

Lana said...

Hey Taylor, quiz time... what fundamental value of the Founders did they guarantee in the SECOND amendment?

misswhit said...

I agree that this bill is over the top. Most likely it will quickly die. However, I do have to wonder how many "crazy things", as you put it, were submitted over the years by democrats while democrats were in control--don't recall hearing about many of them. Taylor, can you remember Observer editorials continually hammering proposals by the state dems? Or was everything they proposed okay with all of you?

Feltfrau said...

I think it would be awesome to mandate Islam as the state religion and let the white/anglo/protestant men who are so confident their religion is the only one a taste of their own medicine. Government meetings that have religions components ARE respecting a religion and excluding others. It's fine when the local Presbyterian minister leads a prayer, but what about the local Rabbi or an Agnostic who wants to read a meaninful poem? What about a Voodoo Preistess or a Wiccan reading? I'm sure the answer would be a swift and mighty NO. Their narrow little view of the world is not reality, and it does make NC the butt of jokes, which is tragic.

fUrGy * said...

I am pretty sure North Carolina conservative law makers have forgotten about separation of church and state. This country was founded on freedom.. Which includes freedom of religion. This is one of the reasons immigrants migrated to the United States.. To worship freely without living in fear of the consequences.. By declaring the state of North Carolina a certain religion is a step in the wrong direction. Not only would this deceleration upset out ancestors, but it would make all North Carolinians look narrow minded, judgmental, and just plain stupid.

Founding Father said...

We need to start protesting, writing editorials, making a heck of a lot more noise against what has become a de facto infiltration by---let's call it what it is already without fear or mincing words--dangerous religious fundamentalists. These people, given their druthers, would in fact establish a literal theocracy, and their contempt for the well-established secular underpinnings of our government can neither be ignored, nor civilly tolerated when they waste the taxpayers' time and money with such patently absurd, contemptuous bills! ENOUGH ALREADY!! ENOUGH!!

cooldela1966 said...

North Carolina has had a state religion for over 100 years. Under Democratic control our state religion has been "tax & spend." You cannot deny it.icadjcl

fredomfiter said...

The right wing Republican Tea Party head cases have not been in power three years and they are already running North Carolina into the ground with their idiotic political agenda and making us a national laughing stock and the butt of late night monologue jokes. The majority of the voters in this state elected these "lawmakers" and their insanity knows no bounds. North Carolina elected them so they need to sit back and enjoy the ride. This state is not moving forward but it is advancing to the rear under these morons. It is what it is.

jay1937 said...

THIS THING IS DEAD ON ARRIVAL, SEVERAL DAYS AGO. WHY DON'T YOU GET THIS ARTICLE OFF YOUR WEB PAGES? Or, IS THE OBSERVER ONE OF THE OUTLETS FOR PROMOTING THE LEFT WINGED NUTS IN THE STATE OR REALLY WISHING FOR SOCIALISM?

BiBr said...

Taylor - let's face it. You hate anything the GOP does simply because you are a narrow-minded progressive that doesn't know what being objective is all about.

cooldela1966 said...

I think our religion is the UNC-system because the taxpayers are certainly not allowed to question how funds are spent.