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Thread: Proposal would allow state religion in North Carolina

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    Senior Member [WDW]Megaraptor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeedsABetterName View Post
    I think his constituents should be more concerned with the fact that he's introducing frivolous laws (and thus, wasting the taxpayer-funded hours of his staffers and the costs of running the Legislature) than whether or not he's flipping the finger to the ACLU.
    That may be but a lot of people here in NC have absolutely had enough of the ACLU coming in and telling preachers what they can and cannot say during their prayers. They view it as an issue of fundamental liberty and freedom of conscience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by [WDW]Megaraptor View Post
    That may be but a lot of people here in NC have absolutely had enough of the ACLU coming in and telling preachers what they can and cannot say during their prayers. They view it as an issue of fundamental liberty and freedom of conscience.
    If it's about freedom of conscience, why would he introduce a bill that inherently runs contrary to that? Also, what does the ACLU mixing it up with a bunch of preachers relate to an attempt to establish a state religion? I'm not seeing that as a logical response.

    No, the ACLU has no business trying to force regulation into a house of worship. So long as they don't act on something extreme (example: an Imam calling for violent acts), the belief-action distinction says that there is no room for government intervention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by barbarossa2520 View Post
    Maybe you can keep your "There is probably no God, so stop worrying" stickers off our buses then and keep them in your houses.
    Do atheists read Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens on public school speakers or during government meetings? On my way to upper Michigan I see two creationist "museum" billboards + one "If you die tonight will you go to heaven or hell?". Although they are annoying as ****, they are put on private billboards and not on government sponsored buildings

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    Quote Originally Posted by [WDW]Megaraptor View Post
    I hope you guys realize you are all being trolled as a side effect of the NC legislature trolling the ACLU.
    And the legislature doesn't have better things to do than trolling the ACLU?
    Legal or not, it's idiotic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NeedsABetterName View Post
    If it's about freedom of conscience, why would he introduce a bill that inherently runs contrary to that? Also, what does the ACLU mixing it up with a bunch of preachers relate to an attempt to establish a state religion? I'm not seeing that as a logical response.

    No, the ACLU has no business trying to force regulation into a house of worship. So long as they don't act on something extreme (example: an Imam calling for violent acts), the belief-action distinction says that there is no room for government intervention.
    OK...background.

    It is tradition in many NC local governments (city, county commissioners, etc) to invite local religious leaders to offer a prayer before official government meetings.

    (Local government in NC is part time, they meet once a week on weeknights.)

    The leader would come in and pray that God give wisdom to the officials, that they make wise decisions to benefit the people they represent, etc. They invited a variety of leaders, representative of various religions and denominations and established a rotating basis for who would give the prayer. Each religious leader would pray in accordance with the customs of his own religious tradition.

    About two years ago, the ACLU got wind of this and said that while praying to a "non-specific deity" was OK, offering prayers in the name of Jesus or sectarian prayers specific to one religious group was not.

    Nevermind that no one was telling the pastors what to say when they prayed, and telling them what they can and cannot say when they are praying is a greater limitation on freedom of religion than allowing people to say whatever they want about God. The ACLU poured millions into lawsuits against various county governments trying to make them stop people from saying sectarian prayers.

    Once again, the debate isn't over whether or not people can pray before meetings but what exactly they are allowed to say when they pray.

    As a result lots of people in NC are spitting hellfire mad about what they view as an infringement on free speech and freedom of conscience by well funded lawyers from outside the state coming in and meddling in our internal affairs and culture. People have been donating money to county governments so they can fight the lawsuits. All over the state, pastors who have been invited to pray and instructed to pray only generic prayers have instead offered prayers in accordance with their religious tradition as an act of civil disobedience and basically dared the ACLU to stop them.

    That's the background. I don't know the full thought process behind this bill, but I suspect the author never intends to actually declare a state religion, just make the point that (in his opinion) states could if they wanted to, which means that the ACLU's 1st Amendment arguments against prayer at county meetings are null and void. I'm pretty sure he knows it won't become law, will immediately be struck down, etc. Which is why he's mostly just filing it as an expression of how pissed off a lot of people are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NeedsABetterName View Post
    It would.

    All those cases about mandated prayer in schools, teaching of intelligent design/creationism, and even mandated pledge of allegiance? All of them revolved around the idea that a State cannot establish a religion (meaning, help or hinder the advancement of a particular religion). It's been applied under the 14th Amendment as far back as the 1940s.
    Thanks for the answer. I was hoping you or hank would see that when I wrote it.

    How are Blue Laws handled then? They're all implicitly or explicitly Christian in nature, and they're are still on the books all over the South. (My grandfather didn't hold a particularly high view of the ones we have in Georgia, haha)

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    I guess if Rowan County Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford are re-elected, then you know what you need to know about their electorate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by XJ220 View Post
    I guess if Rowan County Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford are re-elected, then you know what you need to know about their electorate.
    http://www.salisburypost.com/article...130409856/1016

    Two Rowan County Republican lawmakers want their legislative colleagues to support a resolution backing their county commissioners and their use of sectarian prayers at official meetings.
    The Salisbury Post reports that Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford filed the joint resolution Monday. It says citizens should not lose First Amendment protection "by virtue of their appointment, election, contract, employment, or otherwise engagement."
    The Huffington Post headlined the story with “GOP Lawmakers Propose Official State Religion.”
    But Warren said Tuesday night he didn’t intend to make that declaration by supporting what he saw as the “literal interpretation” of the First Amendment.
    “This is, on my part, more of a demonstration of support more than an effort to have the courts revisit everything,” Warren said.
    He also said he did not anticipate the bill going far.
    “I didn’t expect it to go anywhere,” he said, noting that the bill was read into the floor Tuesday morning and referred to the committee for Rules, Calendar and Operations of the House. “Quite often bills go there and never come out.”
    Ford said the attention has had one intended result.
    “It has gotten people to get out their Constitution and read it,” he said.
    As the story has gained national attention, Cornerstone Church Pastor Bill Godair had a billboard put up along U.S. 29, near his church on Webb Road.
    Instead it drew national attention as critics accused Ford and co-sponsor N.C. Rep. Harry Warren, R-Salisbury, of trying to establish a state religion.
    “We’re not starting a church. We’re not starting a religion. We’re supporting the county commissioners in their freedom of speech,” Ford said Wednesday.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan10k View Post
    Thanks for the answer. I was hoping you or hank would see that when I wrote it.

    How are Blue Laws handled then? They're all implicitly or explicitly Christian in nature, and they're are still on the books all over the South. (My grandfather didn't hold a particularly high view of the ones we have in Georgia, haha)
    Yeah, Blue Laws suck. I'm not personally aware of any challenges to Blue Laws that have made it to the USSC. Having said that, here's the basics of how I think a challenge would go:
    1. Plaintiff would find some indication that the laws were religiously motivated*.
    2. Plaintiff would allege that the law unfairly favored a particular religion.
    3. Plaintiff would challenge under Lemon v. Kurtzman that the law had no valid secular purpose.

    I can't honestly say how the Court would decide there.

    *For example, comments recorded in the minutes of legislative debate. There was a case out of Louisiana regarding moments of prayer where a legislator said something to the effect of "Ya'll need to vote for this because this is how we'll get prayer back in schools." That actually played a pivotal role in the decision IIRC.

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    Quote Originally Posted by [WDW]Megaraptor View Post
    OK...background.

    It is tradition in many NC local governments (city, county commissioners, etc) to invite local religious leaders to offer a prayer before official government meetings.

    (Local government in NC is part time, they meet once a week on weeknights.)

    The leader would come in and pray that God give wisdom to the officials, that they make wise decisions to benefit the people they represent, etc. They invited a variety of leaders, representative of various religions and denominations and established a rotating basis for who would give the prayer. Each religious leader would pray in accordance with the customs of his own religious tradition.

    About two years ago, the ACLU got wind of this and said that while praying to a "non-specific deity" was OK, offering prayers in the name of Jesus or sectarian prayers specific to one religious group was not.

    Nevermind that no one was telling the pastors what to say when they prayed, and telling them what they can and cannot say when they are praying is a greater limitation on freedom of religion than allowing people to say whatever they want about God. The ACLU poured millions into lawsuits against various county governments trying to make them stop people from saying sectarian prayers.

    Once again, the debate isn't over whether or not people can pray before meetings but what exactly they are allowed to say when they pray.

    As a result lots of people in NC are spitting hellfire mad about what they view as an infringement on free speech and freedom of conscience by well funded lawyers from outside the state coming in and meddling in our internal affairs and culture. People have been donating money to county governments so they can fight the lawsuits. All over the state, pastors who have been invited to pray and instructed to pray only generic prayers have instead offered prayers in accordance with their religious tradition as an act of civil disobedience and basically dared the ACLU to stop them.

    That's the background. I don't know the full thought process behind this bill, but I suspect the author never intends to actually declare a state religion, just make the point that (in his opinion) states could if they wanted to, which means that the ACLU's 1st Amendment arguments against prayer at county meetings are null and void. I'm pretty sure he knows it won't become law, will immediately be struck down, etc. Which is why he's mostly just filing it as an expression of how pissed off a lot of people are.
    Fair enough. I still think it's frivolous, but I can appreciate the sentiment.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_v._Weisman

    ^That's how the Court views non-sectarian prayers at school graduations. As far as I know, they haven't applied such a standard to invocations at federal/state legislatures, but that's probably the standard that the ACLU wants your legislature to meet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by [WDW]Megaraptor View Post
    THanks for posting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NeedsABetterName View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_v._Weisman

    ^That's how the Court views non-sectarian prayers at school graduations. As far as I know, they haven't applied such a standard to invocations at federal/state legislatures, but that's probably the standard that the ACLU wants your legislature to meet.
    Interesting, thanks for that link. I found this part of Kennedy's opinion interesting:

    It is a cornerstone principle of our Establishment Clause jurisprudence that it is no part of the business of government to compose official prayers for any group of the American people to recite as a part of a religious program carried on by government, and that is what the school officials attempted to do.

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    Update on the situation:

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/201...n-wont-be.html

    SALISBURY, N.C. One of the North Carolina legislators who sponsored a resolution declaring the state can make its own laws about religion without involvement from the federal government and courts is apologizing for any embarrassment to his community and state.

    The proposal's primary sponsors are Republican Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford of Rowan County. Warren tells the Salisbury Post ( http://bit.ly/12q8LTS) the now-dead resolution was poorly written.

    ...
    Warren says he only intended to allow Rowan County officials to continue opening meetings with prayer, not to establish a state religion. The American Civil Liberties Union sued county commissioners last month, accusing the panel of violating the First Amendment by routinely praying to Jesus Christ.

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    Religion and the Law on the "The Massachusetts School of Law" youtube channel

    no picture, only (bad) audio, but intereseting and thoughtful speaches by one Justice and two Professors


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