North Carolina has the power to establish official religion, a resolution from 2 State Reps. says

Two Rowan County lawmakers drew nationwide attention Wednesday for pushing a resolution that says North Carolina and its counties and towns have the right to establish an official religion.

Republican state Reps. Carl Ford and Harry Warren filed the measure this week as Rowan commissioners gear up to fight a lawsuit that seeks to end their habit of opening meetings with specifically Christian prayers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Church/State Matters, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government

5 comments on “North Carolina has the power to establish official religion, a resolution from 2 State Reps. says

  1. Ad Orientem says:

    DOA in the first court of law this lands in.

  2. Katherine says:

    Despite the publicity, this resolution is going nowhere in the NC Republican-controlled legislature. These two lawmakers brought it up, knowing it was futile, to satisfy folks in Rowan County who are annoyed about the lawsuit to ban prayers at public meetings.

  3. Robert says:

    It seems that it is not as absurd as one might think:

    “A bunch of readers pointed me to a North Carolina bill that would express the legislators’ view that the Establishment Clause shouldn’t be seen as applicable to the states, so I thought I’d offer some general thoughts about the subject. Here is the bill, in relevant part:

    ‘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.

    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.’

    Recall that the Bill of Rights originally didn’t apply to the states, and indeed several states (not including North Carolina) had official establishments of religion at the time the Bill of Rights was enacted, with the last being disestablished in the 1830s. It’s the Fourteenth Amendment that has been read as applying the Bill of Rights to the states, through its statement that “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” though many scholars and some judges have argued that the incorporation should have taken place through another clause of the Amendment, “[n]o State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

    And a few scholars and judges have indeed argued that this language should not be read as incorporating the Establishment Clause; the most prominent examples have been Justice Thomas and Prof. Akhil Amar. The chief argument for this view is that the Establishment Clause was originally understood as a federalism guarantee, with the ban on federal laws “respecting an establishment of religion” meaning that the federal government could neither establish a national religion nor disestablish (or otherwise modify) state establishments of religion. Another possible argument is that the Establishment Clause differs from most Bill of Rights guarantees in that much action that is seen as violating the Establishment Clause — such as government endorsement of religious messages and symbols — doesn’t deprive anyone of liberty, or abridge any citizen’s privileges or immunities. (Action that does directly implicate people’s liberty, such as coercion of religious practice, might be prohibited by other provisions, such as the Free Exercise Clause and Free Speech Clause, which have been relatively uncontroversially incorporated against the states; likewise, action that denies people tangible benefits based on their denomination or their irreligiosity might be seen as prohibited by the Free Exercise Clause or the Equal Protection Clause.) The North Carolina legislators seem to be siding with this position.”

    From April 4th by Eugene Volokh at “The Volokh Conspiracy,”

  4. Katherine says:

    Thanks, anglicanconvert. The reporting on this from our local left-wing TV station (WRAL) has been atrocious, and the AP picked it up from there. The resolution offered did not establish a religion; it merely asserted that the constitution did not prohibit states from doing so, which was true, at least at the beginning.

  5. TomRightmyer says:

    Rowan County includes Salisbury the home of the ELCA NC Synod bishop and office. It is near Charlotte and one of the political issues is whether the county is to be controlled by rural or urban interests. The rural dominated county commissioners – like the Congress – open their meetings with prayer. The militant secularists have chosen to sue and as noted above popular opinion opposes them. Buncombe County and Asheville have a similar conflict going on but this time about control of the water supply.