Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have proposed a bill that they say would allow to the state to establish an official religion and defy the Constitution of the United States.
Nine state House members joined with Republican state Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford of Rowan County to sponsor House Bill 494 in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last month that sought to stop Christian prayers at official Rowan County government meetings.
In 2009, a court found that the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners had violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by using sectarian prayers to open official meetings.
In his ruling, Magistrate Judge Trevor Sharp wrote that Forsyth County prayers "display a preference for Christianity over other religions by the government" and "alienates those whose beliefs differ from Christian beliefs and divides citizens along religious lines."
Warren and Ford's bill would declare that North Carolina is "sovereign" and any court ruling about religion is nullified by the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.
"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," the bill states.
"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."
A 1961 Supreme Court ruling found that a provision in North Carolina's state constitution which disqualifies anyone who does not believe in God from seeking public office was unenforceable.
Rep. Harry Warren in 2010 told NC Tea Party TV that the federal government had too much power and that it was doing everything possible to "infringe on sovereignty of the states."
"I wholeheartedly believe that we have to do what we need to do to protect our sovereignty," he explained. "And I would fight very hard to make sure we maintain our sovereignty and our state's rights."
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