The Preamble to the North Carolina State Constitution goes like this:
We, the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for the preservation of the American Union and the existence of our civil, political and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those blessings to us and our posterity, do, for the more certain security thereof and for the better government of this State, ordain and establish this Constitution.
That’s pretty standard stuff in America. God is great, he gave us our freedom, and we are counting on him to keep blessing us with that freedom. But just in case he forgets or gets busy slaughtering people, we are establishing a Constitution.
In Article VI, Section 8 (“Disqualifications for office”) of the document we find this:
The following persons shall be disqualified for office:
First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.
That makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, if God is the “Sovereign Ruler of Nations” and he gave folks their freedom and they are “dependent” on him to keep it, then of course they ought to pay him the courtesy of believing in him. It’s the least a grateful people should do.
The issue of disqualifying someone from office for non-belief in God went before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1961, when a similar provision in the state of Maryland’s constitution was challenged by an atheist, Roy Torcaso.
In Torcaso v. Watkins, Justice Hugo Black wrote:
We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person “to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.” Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.
That ruling, along with the “Lemon test” in 1971 would appear, at least to people with minds uncluttered by religious dogma, to have settled the matter of mixing religion with government in a constitutionally secular America.
But not so fast, all you reprobates:
The proposed law reads:
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.
The bill has 12 sponsors. Guess which political party they belong to?
Oh, come on. Take a guess.