Eleven North Carolina state House members are unhappy with federal court rulings related to when and where “overtly Christian prayers” can be made, and so they’ve introduced a bill that declares that North Carolina doesn’t have to listen to what the federal government, or Constitution, says. Taking it another step, the bill says the state can establish it’s own religion.
The bill, filed Monday by two GOP lawmakers from Rowan County and backed by nine other Republicans, says each state ‘is sovereign’ and courts cannot block a state ‘from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.’ The legislation was filed in response to a lawsuit to stop county commissioners in Rowan County from opening meetings with a Christian prayer, wral.com reported.
More from WRAL:
The legislation grew out of a dispute between the American Civil Liberties Union and 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. …
In a 2011 ruling on a similar lawsuit against the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not ban prayer at government meetings outright, but said prayers favoring one religion over another are unconstitutional.
The HuffPo piece adds this important note:
The religion bill comes as some Republican-led states seek to separate themselves from the federal government, primarily on the issues of guns and Obamacare. This includes a proposal in Mississippi to establish a state board with the power to nullify federal laws.
House Bill 494 was filed by Republican Rowan County Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford. Among the other nine sponsors are Majority Leader Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, and Budget Chairman Justin Burr, R-Stanly.
The bill reads:
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.
(Church State Street Signs via Sodahead)