In a bid to nullify any federal ban on Christian prayer by public bodies in North Carolina, Republican legislators in that state filed a bill last month that would not only do that but also allow them to declare an official religion in the state too.
The bill reportedly> stems from a local dispute between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.
The ACLU complained in a federal lawsuit in March that since 2007, the board has started 97 percent of its meetings exclusively with Christian prayers. This lawsuit comes on the heels of a warning issued by the ACLU last year that asked legislators not to open the state's General Assembly with sectarian prayers.
But the legislators have chosen to ignore that warning in favor of Christian prayers which are considered an accepted staple in the state.
"We just come before you with thanksgiving and praise for who you are and all that you have done at the cross to allow us to walk boldly up to your throne of grace," Rep. Susan Martin (R-Wilson) recently prayed before the local House session in this report.
"We thank you so much for all that you've given us, for this opportunity and also for your gift of salvation through your son, Jesus Christ. It is in his name that we pray," Rep. Jacqueline Michelle Schaffer (R-Mecklenburg) also prayed in the same report.
The resolution, House Bill 494, was filed by Republican Rowan County Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford. The legislation would reject the force of any judicial ruling on prayer in the state.
"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."
Reports of the proposal have already drawn a barrage of reactions online with many dismissing the bill as an unwise move.
"Bad idea. If you're going to complain about Obama trampling all over the Constitution, you might want to consider following it yourself," one commenter identified as rossfranco notes in this report.
"Almost every comment I've read here regarding this insane piece of legislation shows that the people commenting simply don't grasp what it would mean, or how far reaching it would be," added another commenter listed as watkinsjr. "This bill isn't simply about a legislative attempt to establish an official state religion (which would clearly be unconstitutional). If this bill becomes law, it would mean that the state of North Carolina would assert that state government, local governments, & even local school boards in N.C. would have the power to overrule, supersede, or nullify any rights, civil liberties, or protections guaranteed to U.S. citizens by the U.S. Constitution or by federal law."