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State Religion


North Carolina Republicans have filed a bill establishing a state religion of North Carolina that combines ignoring the 1st Amendment with nullification:

SECTION 1. 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.

SECTION 2. 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.

I don’t know all that much about North Carolina politics, but it’s odd to me that this state has been the most purple over the past 2 presidential elections. I guess the Republicans there are real loons but all the migration into the state is slowly marginalizing them.

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  • cpinva

    apparently, it isn’t marginalizing them quickly enough. while i’m going to assume this bill has little chance of passage, that’s not a given. with all the problems NC (and pretty much all the states) currently has to deal with, one wonders what the majority of the state’s voters think, of their state legislature spending its time on nonsense such as this?

    • I’d prefer them wasting their time on that rather than eliminating a couple state universities and gutting unemployment to pay for Pope’s tax cut.

      But that’s kind of a shitty choice.

      Oh, and RE Eric’s pondering about NC being purple but the GOP being loons: NC has had strong movement toward the Dems largely because of a decent-sized African American population voting at higher rates than in the past (which is happening across the country) combined with a lot of Northerners moving to the state for jobs in the Triangle or the Charlotte area. So of course, that leaves us with the problem we have in places like PA, MI, WA, OH, FL, VA, OR and a bunch of other states, where Democrats concentrate in urban areas and college towns, so they win a minority of the legislative and Congressional seats 68-32, leaving the Republicans to win a lot more seats 54-46.

    • Glenn

      Given that it appears to be nonbinding, I wouldn’t be so sure it won’t pass. It’s a cheap and easy grandstanding opportunity.

      • Glenn

        Or, what John says below. (Damn, should always read the full comments first!)

  • rea

    It’ not really ignoring the 1st Amendment so much as taking remarkably narrow view of the 14th–no incorporationism.

    • John

      Yeah, this. The first amendment certainly did not on its own forbid states to have established religions, given that many states continued to have established religions for some time after the Constitution was ratified. Massachusetts didn’t disestablish the Congregationalist Church until 1833.

      I’d add, though, that the proposed resolution does not actually do anything, much less establish a state religion for North Carolina. It’s just a lot of grandstanding saying that they can do so if they like, and that the federal courts can’t stop them.

      • mark

        Depends what you mean by “doing anything.” On the face of it, the bill would seem to allow school prayer instantly and invite towns to go further if they wanted.

  • bob mcmanus

    Purple is polarizing

  • arguingwithsignposts

    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; 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

    Can someone help me out here? This is a new argument on me. I thought that was a pretty explicit part of Article III.

    • rea

      See here:


      (But we should all support the guy, because . . .DRONES!)

      • arguingwithsignposts

        Thanks. That’s an … interesting link. I was looking for maybe a little more of a tl;dr explanation of this theory.

        I did find this interesting:

        Ridiculous as sodomy laws may be, there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution. There are, however, states’ rights — rights plainly affirmed in the Ninth and Tenth amendments.

        Funny how they never mention that “the people” are mentioned in the 9th, not the states. And “the people” are mentioned along with the states in the 10th.

        • Shakezula

          Other things you will not find in the Constitution:

          1. The right to walk down the street without me running up and sticking my dainty Frye boot up your ass.
          2. The right stop me from dumping my garbage in your yard.
          3. The right to park your car without me coming up and scratching “Constitutionalist Cumhoarder” across the hood.

          Why do people even say this crap? Do they like being mocked?

          • delurking

            Constitutional cumhoarder. Heh.

            • BigHank53

              Sounds like a minor-league team to me.

          • Just Dropping By

            To paraphrase ICP, “F*****g enumerated powers, how do they work?”

    • Glenn

      It’s actually not explicit, and the question of judicial review presents an interesting theoretical question, though one that has certainly been deemed practically settled for 200+ years.

  • neech

    I’m not surprised. This state constitution still contains a religious test for public office. This is AFTER it was rewritten in the early 1970s.

    Article VI Section 8:

    Disqualifications for office.
    The following persons shall be disqualified for office:
    First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.

    • Aaron B.

      Seems like some enterprising NC atheist should win an elected office and file a lawsuit challenging this.

  • c u n d gulag

    Having live there for 9 years, and having lived in Chapel Hill (the Research Triangle Park area – including Durham and Raleigh – aka: the high tech region), Southern Pines, and Fayetteville, I have seen many of the sides of NC.

    Chapel Hill, and the RTP area, is the Liberal enclave – along with the Winston-Salem area, and Asheville in the West. That’s a solidly Blue area.
    When NC wanted to build a State Zoo, Jesse Helms asked, “Why bother? Why not just put a fence around Chapel Hill?”

    Southern Pines is the town adjacent to Pinehurst – full of old and new money, and lotsa golf. This is a reddish-purple area.

    And Fayetteville is where Fort Bragg is located. Mostly Reddish – but with enough pockets of Blue that we were able to make Cumberland County vote Democratic for the first time in decades, in 2008.

    I also drove through many of the rural parts, east of Boone. Deep, deep Red areas.

    Like many states to its North, the closer you are to an urban area, and a college, the Bluer the state is. The farther you get away from that, the Redder it is.

    NC still is a magnet for Yankees, so I expect it to stay Purple for a while, before eventually going Blue.

    Maybe the new Governor’s and the Republican state legislatures recent actions may hasten it turning Blue.
    Not only do the Republicans want to make the state more religious, in an Evangelical Christian way, they also are determined to privatize education. In many suburban areas, NC primary schools were terrific – particularly those near college towns. And, until recently, even some of the urban schools were very good – Wake County, for example, where the capital, Raleigh, is located.
    I expected some future political whip-sawing back and forth when I left in early 2009.
    The Red is still strong there. The problem is, the rural kids want to move out, the rural adults are dying out, and more and more of us Yankees keep moving in, and taking over – as they sufferingly complained to me, the whole time I was living there.
    If Hillary runs in 2016, I expect her to win the state with a very solid majority.

    • Nathan Willard

      North Carolina is a really weird special case. The Republicans did not have control of the state senate until 2010 (since reconstruction), when they won both the House and Senate, heavily funded by onetime Republican legislator and Koch aspirant Art Pope. Since then, it’s been all tea party all the time, as they hasten to pull down every thing about north carolina that has contributed to its overall message that government can be effective over the past 50 years (excellent public health, very good public education, a strong regulatory regime, sound early voting procedures, etc). Also, they have been sure to go out of their way to remove power from the liberal cities, especially Asheville. This has accelerated since McCrory was elected governor (first republican governor in quite some time), appointing Art Pope budget director.

      The dynamic as I read it is much more one of rushing to catch up to the rest of the South as fast as possible, after years of being unable to do so. And also of folks trying to consolidate the rare Republican moment and make it permanent (needless to say, redistricting was a lot of fun, again, particularly for western North Carolina, which saw Asheville divided in order to prevent them from being represented by a Democrat. In their defense, the Democrats had overachieved on the gerrymander front in prior censuses), as well as to eliminate the institutional legacy of the Democrats. Like, say, by dissolving all the oversight boards and re-forming them so that no legacy Democratic appointees would be able to serve out their terms.

      Part of what took us so long to get here, though, was that the switch from Democrat to Republican in local politics took much, much longer in North Carolina than in other states of the South. So while it’s getting more purple thanks to the dynamics that c n d points out, it skipped the red phase in state and local elections by having more conservative Democrats.

      • Actually, every state in the South “it skipped the red phase in state and local elections.” Ten years ago almost every legislature in the South was still controlled by Democrats. The local voting patterns have almost always lagged behind presidential vote patterns.

        What makes NC (and VA) different from the rest of the South is that over the years the white vote hasn’t gone as strongly Republican because there are more white liberals. The white vote in the south shifted from Dem to Republican without moving much on the liberal-conservative axis. But in NC and VA, the white vote has grown with a net increase of liberal whites, which has offset the shift of conservative whites from Dem to Repub, which wasn’t really complete in the South until the last 10 years.

        • John

          I’d add to this that, if anything, ideological sorting of the parties occurred earlier in North Carolina and Virginia than most of the rest of the South. Nixon won both states in 1968, Republican senators were elected for the first time in both states in 1972, and Republican governors around the same time. Unlike other southern states that are now much more solidly Republican than they are (e.g. Louisiana, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee), both states voted against Bill Clinton twice.

          • North Carolina regularly sent a Republican or two to Congress in the 50’s and 60’s when the rest of the South was 100% Democratic. Compared to the Deep South, NC and VA had comparatively small black populations, and those places, if they were not overwhelmingly rural (like Arkansas) were the first places to go Republican. But they were going mainstream Republican more than reactionary batshit crazy Republican; other than FL and TX (which have had their own unique electoral histories), only VA, NC and TN did not go for either Goldwater in 1964 or Wallace in 1968. But TN hasn’t had big in-migration of Northerners and immigrants, which I think accounts for a lot of the difference between it and VA/NC, the other non-mega, non-Deep South former states of the Confederacy.

            • One of the Blue

              Per this the white vote for Obama declined from about 34% in ’08 to 24.3% this year.But let’s look at KY. the white vote for Obama there in 2012 is listed at 31.1%, ahead of NC’s 30.8%.

              The difference between deeply red KY (and TN) on the one hand and purplish NC on the other is that the former two states have a lot fewer African-American voters than does NC.

              • There were no exit polls in KY or TN in 2012. But in states where there was, the only states with less of a drop in the white vote since 2008 than NC were IA and VA. The drop was the same in some states, more in a lot, including WI, PA, and MI. It was twice as great in Missouri, and almost as bad in Indiana. Obama got under 10% in MS and AL. And most of the 22% of US counties were McCain did better than Bush were in WV, KY, TN, AR, OK and TX. So no, there are a lot of differences between NC and KY. You’re looking at two cars at the same place and saying they’re not doing anything different, even though they’re driving in opposition directions and different speeds.

                • One of the Blue

                  There are differences, but I would point out that NC now has a Republican governor and and overwhelmingly Republican (loony right) legislature, while KY’s governor and state house of representatives are Democratic.

                  KY is one of just two southern states with a Democratic governor, and the only one where any house of the state legislature is Democratic. They may be conserva-dems a lot of them, but they do keep the loons at bay.

                  I guess what I’m pointing out is the new “yankee vote” in NC does not yet seem to be the factor, many of us here hope it will become.

          • Nathan Willard

            Fair enough. I was thinking about a piece that a Western Carolina University professor did showing, to me, a democratic vote share in county elections that asymptotically approach 50%, and thinking of Florida, as opposed to Alabama. But of course you’re right.

    • My wife grew up in Wilmington. When she was a kid, there were only a couple Catholic churches. But in the last 10-15 years her parent’s parish has shrunk 2 or 3 times due to the creation of new parishes, with almost all the growth coming from people moving there from the greater NYC and greater Philadelphia areas. While it’s not like the movement in to a place like Asheville, it is making the area more liberal. I’ve heard of the same thing happening in several places in South Carolina, which is why I’ve been predicting for a few years that while Missouri is now gone for us in national elections and OH, PA and WI will continue to be tough, SC and GA could become big headaches for the Republicans in 2016 and 2020.

      • c u n d gulag

        Yeah, I spent a lot of time in Wilmington, home of a lot of old money. And new money, with the ocean and The Outer Banks being right there.
        But the young folks seem to be taking over. I met a lot of very nice, very Liberal, kids when I was training in a telecommunications company down there. And a good number of them were openly gay – and accepted by the city (that’s also widely accepted in Chapel Hill, and the Winston-Salem area. I really regret never getting to Asheville when I lived there, but my long drives were dedicated to coming back up North to see my family and friends). The downtown area of Wilmington is great. A lot of funky restaurants, with new and old recipes. Nice pubs, too. I loved dining out there. Better even than Chapel Hill, imo.

        I think it’s safe to say, that in the South, the closer a college or university is, the more Liberal the area is. Columbia, SC, was a beacon for Liberals, even back in the late 80’s and early 90’s when I had to fly there for business.

        Hmm… I wonder if this explains the attacks on all education, and especially on higher education facilities, those fortresses of Godless Liberalism?
        I suspect so.

        • Despite living there from when she was five until she went (far north of there) for college, my wife is one of the least Southern people I know. [Immigrants whose drivers licenses list them as “other” are probably less inclined to embrace the regional culture.] But she does get irritated when people from Northern states with their own problems malign the South, not because she thinks the region is maligned, but because she believes–correctly, I think–that NC is a big outlier with regard to the public sector and commons. One thing we know, her high school education was far, far, far better than mine in suburban Detroit.

          Something I didn’t know about until the first time we visited her parents: all beachfront in NC is publicly owned and freely accessed. I assume that’s partly because they have no deep water ports on the coast itself, so private ownership wasn’t as ingrained going back to the earliest European settlement. But it’s still impressive.

          • Linnaeus

            all beachfront in NC is publicly owned and freely accessed.

            Also true in Oregon. But Tom McCall-esque Republicans don’t seem to exist anymore.

            • Mike F.

              It isn’t true that all beachfront is publicly owned or accessible in NC. All water is publicly owned — whether inland or oceanfront. That means that the public has free use and access to the (navigable) water — and the “beach” or shoreline to the high tide elevation or, in freshwater, to the full pond mark — but only from the water. You still cannot step on to, or tie up at, Bald Head Island for example, or any other private property without permission. The distinction at the state law is that land, not water can be privately owned.

          • VCarlson

            The tendency to grant northern areas a free pass on their racism has bothered me for years. It was particularly noticeable when I lived in the Philly area – where loudmouths would go on about the South’s racism and general reluctance to join the modern world (real things that need attention) while failing to notice things like the Philadelphia Carpenter’s Union being 100% white, despite requiring residence in Philadelphia, a city with a 41% white and 43% black population (per Wikipedia).

            • I wasn’t referring to racism. I was discussing the public sector, which overall is significantly better in the North, but the point was not everywhere in the North has superior public sector to everywhere in the South, and not in every area. And one of the biggest Southern outliers–maybe the biggest–is North Carolina.

              But RE racism, I grew up in and around Detroit in the 70’s and 80’s; I know what it looks like. And I will say this: my wife and I are of different racial backgrounds. We met in Minnesota, we moved to Chicago, we visit my family and friends in Detroit and DC, we’ve spent time together in Kansas when I was doing a campaign there, and we’ve vacationed in Oregon. First few times we were in North Carolina I kept wondering why people were staring at us, because I’d never noticed it before. Then I realized: oh, THAT’S why. We’re in the South. And people stare at her (and her parents and sister) all the time, and the fact that we’re together gives people a second reason to stare.

              It wasn’t all the time, and it wasn’t everywhere. But I seldom notice anyone staring at us, and each time I have we were in North Carolina, Georgia or (not quite Southern, I know) West Virginia.

      • JoyfulA

        The leader of my Dean for president group in a red part of PA moved to Wilmington some years ago.

    • newsouthzach

      I grew up in Greensboro, and a lot of what you said rings true to me. I got an excellent public education (the NC School of Science and Math is truly first-rate), county health systems were well-funded, etc. Now? NCSSM is still up there, but the non-magnet public schools are hurting across the state, and the university system hasn’t consistently had money to raise faculty salaries. The Guilford County mental health system has been sold off to a private company with no experience in providing emergency services, and you can guess how well that’s going. And my former Representative, Howard Coble (bless his heart), isn’t out front making waves with the Tea Party stuff, but he’s not exactly reaching across the aisle either.

      As for the state legislature, they are indeed a bunch of loons, but I think that’s the same most places. Nobody goes into politics to be a state representative, so if you look at some of the very special people we have in Congress, and then you think about who didn’t make the cut, that should give you a pretty good idea of what you’re dealing with.

      • LFC

        As for the state legislature, they are indeed a bunch of loons, but I think that’s the same most places.

        No it isn’t, or at least not to the same extent (speaking as someone who lives in Md.).

        • newsouthzach

          Mike McDermott.

          (I live in MD too, now.)

          • Shakezula

            One rep. way the hell out on the Eastern Shore. If Maryland gets any bluer it will be ultraviolet and I think our Repubs. wouldn’t last five seconds amongst the troglodytes found in the statehouses of other southern states.

            • newsouthzach

              Fair point.

  • Yog Sothoth, Devourer of Souls

    I am pleased that the puny neo-confederates recognize my supremacy. I shall devour them last, provided sacrifices pleasing unto me begin in a timely manner.

    • newsouthzach

      I would have thought people would be lining up to be devoured first.

      • Yog Sothoth, Devourer of Souls

        One would think that mortals would seek this honour, yes. Yet for reasons that even I in my greatness do not understand, you puny ones seem to wish to fight the inevitable.

      • It depends on how long the devouring takes. If there were a ten-year gap between those who displeased YS, DoD being eaten and everyone else…then we’d get their stuff.

    • Glenn

      Hm, I don’t know, I’m considering being devoured by the Sarlacc instead. He promises me some new definition!

  • Matt

    On the one hand, this is repellent. On the other hand, it’s refreshing to see the theocrats finally letting their freak flag fly…

    • c u n d gulag

      Yes, it’s endlessly amusing how they think that most of ‘Murka’s “with them” regarding the agenda’s of Modern Conservatism and it’s recent butt-buddy, Evangelical Christianity.

      Endlessly amusing, but also frightening how many people actually do agree with them, and vote accordingly.

      Of course, the vast majority of them are old, white, mostly male, and mostly rural, so they are, quite literally, dying out.
      Just not soon enough.

  • Warren Terra

    The wingers keep on warning everyone that Shariah is coming. Looking at the passage of this resolution, I’m inclined to believe it; certainly, if you wanted to implement Shariah, this resolution or something much like it is where you’d start.

    • Barry

      “The wingers keep on warning everyone that Shariah is coming. Looking at the passage of this resolution, I’m inclined to believe it; certainly, if you wanted to implement Shariah, this resolution or something much like it is where you’d start.”

      I’ve literally seen no right-wing propaganda for many years which isn’t pure Freudian projection on the part of the right.

    • DrDick

      You always know what conservatives are planning by what they accuse others of doing.

      • Uncle Ebeneezer

        See: “Activist Judges!”

    • BigHank53

      You’ll note how few people on the right emit a peep of protest over theocratic rule itself. They’re just afraid the scary mooslims will get there first.

      • Cody

        I always assumed they already though we had theocratic rule in America. That’s why they can be worried about Sharia law – we already have Biblical law.

        They just never bothered to read the Bible to know what it would really imply.

      • Robert M.

        I’ve been saying for a few years now that the right’s problem with Iran is merely that it’s the wrong kind of theocracy. They’re right behind the rigged elections, stoning “adulterous” women, official denials of the existence of homosexuality, etc. But Iran is doing those things for scary foreign Muslim reasons, rather than good old-fashioned Christian ones.

  • Major Kong

    An awful lot of people seem to require validation of their faith from the government.

    • Barry Freed

      Yes, and from that very same government which is the problem, not the solution.

  • Shakezula

    Shorter NC: Fuck the Jews.

    • Origami Isopod

      And the pagans, and the atheists, and anybody who follows one o’ them skeery brown-people religions.

      • Shakezula

        True, I just think it amusing that the critters that are clogging the gene pool’s filters spend all of their time humping Israel’s leg and painfully enunciating “Judeo-Christian Values” but still can’t conceal their hatred of Jewish people. Of course the fact that their major fantasy involves the deaths of the majority of Jewish people is already a clear sign, but this is a nice reminder.

  • Reince Priebus, who just a couple of weeks ago was pleading with Teabaggers to quit this crap, must be rolling in his grave.

    • Shakezula

      Nope, he was probably too busy accusing President Obama of being pro-infanticide to notice.

  • Paul in NC

    I blame Obama. Seriously. And Tim Kaine. Any political operative worth his salt should have understood that the 2010 midterms were different. It was a census and redistricting year. 2010 was a “turnout” election in NC (and a lot of states) and the Democrats didn’t turn out. The Obama machine slept through it. Republicans turned out and a lot of swing elderly voters voted R because they bought the “Obamacare will destroy your Medicare” lies. There was no pushback.

    Now we in NC will pay with this nonsense for at least a decade:

    Gerrymander the shit out of all districts, even on the municipal and county level;
    Replace income tax with tax on services;
    Privatize Medicaid;
    Charter schools with teachers without college degrees;
    Emasculate the urban areas (in Charlotte and Asheville the state is taking over the airports, for instance);
    Fire all advisory board members and replace with Republicans – no expertise necessary;
    Tried to eliminate 12 judgeships (appointed Democrats);
    Medical malpractice caps and other tort “reforms”;
    Business friendly work comp “reform”;
    And now a “state religion.”

    Mississippi, here we…are.

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