03 April 2013

I’m in my hometown in North Carolina visiting family. I love North Carolina and am so proud to be from here, but I swear every time I come back there’s some news that makes me think the Tar Heel state has gone plum crazy. 

Today it was the news that two state legislators want to make Christianity the official state religion. They are so eager to do so they have introduced legislation that will allow the state to be exempt from the U.S. Constitution.

It gets better: in addition to the first section, which says that the Constitution applies only on a federal level,  the second section states that the NC general assembly “does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise the State of North Carolina, its public schools..... from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.”

Um, wasn’t this decided more than 200 years ago?  And while Sections 1 and 2 don’t mention a specific religion, the legislators have said they want it to be Christianity. How would you feel, and what would it even mean, if you were Jewish or Buddhist or Muslim and you lived in a state where the official religion was Christianity? How does that work for you? Are you no longer allowed to practice your religion? 

It is truly terrifying to think about the ramifications of this bill if you have any respect or love for the Constitution. 

As several commentators have pointed out, it’s interesting that these same folks who are so determined to make sure that the 2nd Amendment is upheld (according to their own very broad definition) are so willing to do away with that pesky Establishment Clause in the 1st Amendment that, in part, prohibits the U.S. government from naming a national religion. I guess in N.C. we get to decide which parts of the Bill of Rights we want to uphold.

I would say the bill has no chance of passing, but in recent weeks we’ve seen absolutely batshit crazy laws pass in other Southern states, so who knows. All I know is if it does pass, it won’t stand a chance of being upheld once it’s challenged by the ACLU or whoever decides to take it on (the bill was introduced in part in response to an ACLU suit against NC’s Rowan County over the board of commissioners opening its meeting with Christian prayers).  

North Carolina is known for a great many wonderful things: barbeque, the Durham Bulls, the Carolina Panthers, Coach K, Andy Griffith, Dean Smith, Ava Gardner, Thelonious Monk, James Taylor... does it now have to be known as the land where separation between church and state doesn’t exist? 

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