Proposed bill would allow NC to declare state religion

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- A bill proposed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion.

According to WRAL, the bill would be in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights, but would seek the ability to declare a state religion in addition to nullifying any federal rulings that oppose Christian prayer by public bodies.

WRAL reports House Bill 494 was filed by Republican Rowan County Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford.

The station reports the legislation was developed as a result of a dispute between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.  The ACLU filed a lawsuit in March claiming the board has opened 97 percent of its meetings with explicitly Christian prayers since 2007.

In 2011,  the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners in a similar lawsuit.  The court did not ban prayer at government meetings, but decided prayers that favor a specific religion are unconstitutional.

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