Republican lawmakers in North Carolina filed a bill to allow the state to declare an official religion. Such a law would be a violation of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Motivation for the law is to nullify federal rules against Christian prayer in public bodies throughout the state.
A dispute between the Rowan County Board of Commissioners and the American Civil Liberties Union is at the root of the bill. The ACLU says that the board nearly always opens its meetings with Christian prayer. A similar in 2011 lawsuit garnered a ruling banning prayer that favors one religion over another.
If the bill makes it through the legislative process, it would refuse to acknowledge the force of any judicial ruling on prayer in the state.
“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,” the bill says, “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 also says, “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.”
A legal statute recognizing the Christian religion as the state religion could easily lead to more laws designed to control religion in the State of North Carolina.