Living and matriculating in the State of North Carolina has been especially challenging considering the attack made on homosexual men and women last year.
Some North Carolina law makers continue legislating in the name of God, even if it means trampling on the rights of it's citizens.
Am I in the Twilight Zone? It sure feels like it.
Yesterday, a bill filed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights; the bill seeks to nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide.
According to Laura Leslie, reporter at Raleigh's WRAL, "The bill grew out of a federal lawsuit filed last month by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. In the lawsuit, the ACLU says the board has opened 97 percent of its meetings since 2007 with explicitly Christian prayers."
According to Leslie, overtly Christian prayers at government meetings are not rare in North Carolina.
"Since the Republican takeover in 2011," Leslie reported, "the state Senate chaplain has offered an explicitly Christian invocation virtually every day of session, despite the fact that some senators are not Christian."
Could you imagine the plight of the Senator or Representative who would want to guide meetings by prayers from the Torah, or (gasp) the Koran?
Luckily the U.S. Circuit Court of appeals ruled with an ounce of common sense and constitutionality in a 2011 ruling on a similar lawsuit against the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.
"To plant sectarian prayers at the heart of local government is a prescription for religious discord," the court said. "Where prayer in public for a is concerned, the deep beliefs of the speaker afford only more reason to respect the profound convictions of the listener. Free religious exercise posits broad religious tolerance."
House Bill 494, filed by Republican Rowan County Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford, would refuse to acknowledge the force of any judicial ruling on prayer in North Carolina -- or indeed on any Constitutional topic:
"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," the bill states.
"Each state in the union is sovereign and may independently determine how that state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion."
The Tenth Amendment argument, also known as "nullification," has been tried unsuccessfully by states for more than a century to defy everything from the Emancipation Proclamation of the Civil War to President Obama's health care reforms to gun control.
The bill goes on to say:
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.
Eleven House Republicans have signed on to sponsor the resolution, including Majority Leader Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, and Budget Chairman Justin Burr, R-Stanly.
This act of law is in many respects an act of sedition that would deprive the residents of North Carolina of their claim to the right to freedom of religion, as set forth in the First Amendment.
What other rights and protections might this bill, and the precedents it stands to set, undo?
The establishment of a statewide religion would not only undercut the sense of equality of non-Christian citizens, but also may open the floodgates to hate crimes going without prosecution.
If bills like this pass, we might see a resurgence of Witch Trials coming back, maybe even establishing a totalitarian rule in the state of North Carolina.
The notion of a State recognized religion is simple arrogance on the part of those who propose it.
This bill needs to be killed for the sake of all citizens of the State even the self-righteous who would wish to pass it into law. No matter how benign their intentions may seem, it stands to undermine virtually every principle that the Nation was founded upon.