I speak of the official religion of North Carolina. I at least thought it was basketball. But now come a couple of yahoo Republican state lawmakers with a bill to allow the state to declare an official religion if it wants to and to prevent the federal government from doing anything about it:
Overtly Christian prayers at government meetings are not rare in North Carolina. Since the Republican takeover in 2011, the state Senate chaplain has offered an explicitly Christian invocation virtually every day of session, despite the fact that some senators are not Christian.
In a 2011 ruling on a similar lawsuit against the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not ban prayer at government meetings outright but said prayers favoring one religion over another are unconstitutional.
"To plant sectarian prayers at the heart of local government is a prescription for religious discord," the court said. "Where prayer in public fora 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, a resolution 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...
I don't exactly have my ear to the ground down there, but one doubts this could become law in the state. Although who knows. Republicans run both relevant branches. The majority leader of the lower house is a sponsor.
The ACLU, it must be acknowledged, can be rather inflexible on these matters. Sometimes they'd be better off just letting it go, I think. On the other hand, they're not the only inflexible ones. It would be nice if all this could just be negotiated civilly at a conference table, but often it can't be.
I am generally in favor of things like this, as you know. I've largely rejected dialectics in my advanced years, but my Southern strategy is the one issue on which I truly do think "the worse, the better." Let them pass laws like this. It will hasten the split. All the brainiacs will move back up North. The Research Triangle will be a ghost town.