Raleigh, N.C. — 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 grew out of a dispute between the American Civil Liberties Union against the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. In a federal lawsuit filed last month, the ACLU says the board has opened 97 percent of its meetings since 2007 with explicitly Christian prayers.
Overtly Christian prayers at government meetings are not rare in North Carolina. Since the Republican takeover in 2011, the state Senate chaplain has offered an explicitly Christian invocation virtually every day of session, despite the fact that some senators are not Christian.
That they’re having religious prayers of any kind in a government body is odious to begin with, but Republican theoconservatives have really gone over the deep end with this one:
House Bill 494, a resolution filed by Republican Rowan County Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford, would refuse to acknowledge the force of any judicial ruling on prayer in North Carolina – or indeed on any Constitutional topic:
“The Constitution of the United States does not grant the federal government and does not grant the federal courts the power to determine what is or is not constitutional; therefore, by virtue of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the power to determine constitutionality and the proper interpretation and proper application of the Constitution is reserved to the states and to the people,” the bill states. “Each state in the union is sovereign and may independently determine how that state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion.”
Clearly, someone did not read their constitution. Yes, Mr. Warren and Ms. Ford, the Constitution does give the power to the federal courts to decide what is and isn’t unconstitutional. They’ve been doing this for centuries.
Furthermore, the 14th Amendment makes the Bill of Rights binding on the states, and the 9th Amendment states that powers that neither the federal government nor the state government have is reserved to the people. Deciding what religion you’re going to be is most certainly a power reserved to the people.
It makes me shake my head when I see stories like this. Is this what libertarianism “fusionism” with the “Right,” with theoconservatives, has gotten us? This is terrible. This is not the America our Founding Fathers envisioned. This is not the America that will prosper and go on for a long time defending individual liberty.
I know I have mocked other atheist groups for doing rather silly things, but that’s because they’re taking attention away from things that are genuinely important. LIKE THIS. This is where people should be devoting their effort and energy, to combat idiocy of this nature that seeks to impose itself upon all of us, and that will actually have a powerful effect, not something that means nothing. A state that goes against the Constitution to willfully trample over religious liberty and individual freedom of conscience cannot be tolerated.
North Carolinians should call their state reps, tell them to vote against this bill, and then tell everyone else that fought so hard against the contraceptive mandate on religious liberty grounds this is the same thing. They should also tell that to anti-gay marriage people who used the religious liberty argument. They can’t have it both ways.
If this is going to become the future of the United States, then we have a serious problem. Best to nip it in the bud today.