No state religion for North Carolina

April 5, 2013 • 12:41 pm

According to ABC News, the North Carolina bill that would annul the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution—the amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion—is now dead in the water.

The legislation, House Joint Resolution 494, filed Monday by two GOP legislators and co-signed by 12 others, says the Supreme Court cannot block a state “from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.” But on Thursday, House Speaker Thom Tillis’ said the resolution was dead, according to WRAL.

The bill was initially filed in response to a lawsuit filed last month by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, which, the ACLU said, opened 97 percent of its meetings in 2007 with explicitly Christian prayers. Filing the lawsuit on behalf of three residents, the ACLU wrote in a press release, “the commissioners, who deliver the prayers themselves, routinely call on Jesus Christ and refer to other sectarian beliefs during invocations.”

The legislation filed by Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford stated 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.”

Warren and Ford did not return several requests for comment, but Warren told The Salisbury Post  he never really expected the bill to go too far.

“I didn’t expect it to go anywhere,” Warren told the newspaper, noting that the bill was referred to the committee for Rules, Calendar and Operations of the House. “Quite often bills go there and never come out.”

How cynical can you get? Proposing legislation that they know won’t pass? That’s just grandstanding for their constituents. That may garner them support from their religious constituents, but wastes the legislature’s time and the taxpayers’ money.  Of course, as several commenters noted, the North Carolina bill already contravened both the Constitution’s other provisions and Supreme Court opinion> This was emphasized by a local law professor:

University of North Carolina constitutional law professor Michael Gerhardt said “people can believe what they want to believe.”

“They are entitled to believe it, they are entitled to think it, they are entitled to say it, but they aren’t entitled to act on it,” Gerhardt said. “However they are not entitled to reject applicable Supreme Court opinion.”

This is a brushfire, of course, and not the end of the fire, for many of the faithful in the South always want to impose Christianity on everyone, or at least expose them to its doctrine.

31 thoughts on “No state religion for North Carolina

  1. I hope nobody is surprised that the religious right is perfectly happy to waste taxpayer money on grandstanding. Happens all the time.

      1. That’s not true. Many anti-abortion bills severely limit women’s abilities to get timely, qualified medical care. They do have real, terrible consequences.

  2. I was hoping it would pass, but that fierce feuding between the pentecostal, southern baptist, lutheran and catholic members of the state legislature about the details would have followed.

  3. How is it that these clowns don’t see that their cherished freedom of religion cannot exist without freedom FROM religion.


  4. How cynical can you get? Proposing legislation that they know won’t pass? That’s just grandstanding for their constituents.

    Not just grandstanding for their constituents, I think. They (along with their supporters) are no doubt also grandstanding for God. This is alternatively known as “standing up for Jesus.”

    For in the end times there will be a list of people who went on the record as being in favor of God. God will know who these people are. In the afterlife they get more cookies. And better ones. Because they were so brave.

    1. I’ve heard it argued that this was the motivation of the 9/11 hijackers – not trying to achieve a geopolitical aim, but to impress God.

    2. Cookies!
      I thought that all the incentive that god provided for a lifetime of groveling was a failure to throw you into a lake of fire! Who said there were cookies?

    1. Because constitutionally it’s a secular democracy, and they prefer a theocratic dictatorship (with themselves as the dictators, of course).

      That was too easy. Ask me another!

  5. As a Southerner who is all too familiar with the goddiness of this region, the only thing that’s surprising to me about this situation is that the Congressmen didn’t think it would pass. I’d assumed this was a real attempt at legislation in which they had full confidence, rather than only for show.

  6. Is it that they knew this bill wouldn’t pass or simply the typical reaction of a spoilt child?

    ‘I didn’t want this law anyway.’

    1. The normal procedure is to email Prof Ceiling Cat (his address is in the “research interests” bit of the blog ; but it’s a matter of public record elsewhere too) with a brief summary of the article, the main link, and possibly any subsidiary links that you’ve followed up for yourself.
      As a personal wrinkle, I start the “Subject:” header for such emails with “[WEIT]” so that PCC can identify the general topic at a glance, or even apply a rule-based filter to file it appropriately compared to “the sandwich van is here”, “I dispute my grades”, and “your funding proposal has been accepted” emails that no-doubt interrupt his daily work here.
      Whether that helps any … well, PCC hasn’t objected, and it is a common tactic for mailing lists etc.

    2. Your link links onto a formal abstract at, which itself links on a pay-walled article on ScienceDirect’s servers, with a $31.50 charge for the PDF. I’m sure that, if people find the article relevant and interesting, then a copy will become available under “fair use” rules. (My personal “fair use” test is – if I were reading this in the coffee room, and you found it interesting enough to talk about, would I walk down the corridor to make you a photocopy. If it passes that test … here comes the PDF! From journals where I have personally paid for subscriptions to Science and Nature, I have [performs a DU command …] 39,902 items, totalling 43.6 GB, approximately. And I rather doubt that I’ll read them all. Ever. But, storage is cheap.)
      Moving on to the article, executive summary is that fondling just one Hox gene can increase the elaboration and complexity of limb bones AND decrease the “finfold” (the structure that in teleost fishes forms the cartilaginous stiffening rays of their fins ; IIRC this is homologous to tetrapod fingernails?) Which is interesting. I think (because I don’t have the ink-on-paper book from which I read this ; Jenny Clack’s “Gaining Ground”, of about 5 years ago (edit : 10 ! ) ; discusses the evolution of tetrapods from lobe-finned fishes around 350-300 Ma ; ISBN 978-0253340542 ) that previous genetics work had revealed several Hox group mutations that can increase development of bony structures, OR decrease the size and elaboration of the finfold ; so finding one mutation that does both … doesn’t surprise me.
      Cross-linking these two aspects of development in one gene probably makes it more likely that an early pre-lobe-fin fish could have cycled through minor mutations in the bone-increasing and finfold-decreasing Hox genes, while this gene would have tied the two developmental trends together so that “monsters” such as a long-limbed “proto-lobe-fin” with an ineffectively long finfold on it’s limbs would not have developed. Which skittles over one of the more simple-minded creationist idiocies about the unguided nature of evolution.
      Moderately interesting ; I don’t consider the article a waste of (my) time. But I’m not motivated enough to go hunting for the full paper – which one could probably get by mailing the authors directly. There’s enough above to justify a “fair use” copy. YMMV, HAND, TCPIP.

  7. I find it easy to believe that Warren and Ford introduced their bill with the expectation that it would die in committee. We have a fundagelical state senator here in Indiana who regularly introduces goddy bills (creationism in public education, etc.), which go nowhere, but which help him “stand up for Jesus” and show his colors to that group of High Piety / Low Information Voters. Latest example this session: Senate Bill 23, a blatantly unconstitutional bill that would have given all public schools a free pass to put in place an officially-supervised program of prayer in the classrooms.

  8. “We might as well sanction stupidity as a national sport.”

    – Pat Hat, via The Firesign Theater

  9. How cynical can you get? Proposing legislation that they know won’t pass? That’s just grandstanding for their constituents.

    I suspect that they’re copying, “aping” even (sorry, couldn’t resist it, like an open “fork”, a pair of steel-toed boots and a sign saying “Kick me!”), the so-called “Mother of Parliaments” and the “Ten Minute Rule” bill.
    I wonder what the Althing have in this line of procedure? They’ve at least as good a claim, possibly better, to the “Mother of Parliments” name.

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