Much to the chagrin of some religious fundamentalists, the separation of church and state has been a tenant of the American government since its inception. However, that may change if some Republican representatives get their way.
Far from a prank, on April 1, 2013, Representative Carl Ford (R-N.C.) and Representative Harry Warren (R-N.C.) sponsored the Rowan County Defense of Religion Act of 2013 in the North Carolina house. The bill was also backed by nine other North Carolina Republicans.
The bill comes as a response to a lawsuit filed against Rowan County which argued against county commissioners opening government meetings with Christian prayer, according to wral.com.
The bill, which can be read in its entirety on the North Carolina General Assembly website, argues that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause does not apply to the states. Therefore, states are allowed to promote a particular religion in ways the Federal government cannot. The bill also argues that the 10th Amendment protects the states from Federal courts.
On April 4, however, the Republican Speaker of the North Carolina House, Thom Tillis, announced the bill would not receive a vote in the full house, effectively killing it.
Even though it’s dead for now, the bill brings up the much larger issue of whether or not an official religion, federal or state, should be chosen.
Religion is often a topic to avoid at dinner parties because everyone has their own opinion. According to a poll published by Gallup on December 4 of last year, 40 percent of Americans identify themselves as “very religious,” 29 percent identify as “moderately religious” and the other 31 percent identify as “non religious.”
This data shows religion is alive and well in America, but that does not necessarily mean that government and religion should mix.
Besides the audacity of the bill, the first thing you may think is, “What religion would they choose?” It’s a seemingly innocuous choice but one that has many consequences.
From the same poll, Gallup found that 77 percent of religious adults in America in 2012 identify with a Christian religion. Going by the majority, North Carolina would most likely choose a Christian religion as its official religion, but which sect within Christianity?
Imagine the sheer chaos as different sects within the Christian community fought over which one gets to be official, not to mention the citizens who do not identify with a Christian religion or the people who are not religious at all — what about them? Why is religion going to be imposed on them?
This is America, a country founded on the ideals that no man, woman or child should be persecuted based on their personal religious beliefs. With an official religion on the books, lawmakers, store owners, school districts, etc. could look to extend their power and try to deny service to people who don’t identify with the “official religion.”
Since there is no legal precedent for an official religion, there could be mandatory religious meetings for state citizens, taxes could wind up going to support the church instead of schools or roads or a myriad of other commandments that could undermine the authority of the Federal government.
If the government, even at the state level, institutes an official religion, what they’re basically saying is this “one religion” is right and all others are wrong, which can’t be proven — or disproven.
It seems to me the Rowan County Defense of Religion Act of 2013 has more cons than pros. America hasn’t even decided on an official language, so how are we going to choose an official religion? If it does pass, though, fingers crossed they choose Scientology.