@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

State religion proposal dies in House

Posted April 4, 2013 2:59 p.m. EDT

— A House resolution supporting the creation of an official religion in North Carolina will never come to a vote, officials said Thursday.

House Speaker Thom Tillis' office said House Joint Resolution 494 was dead.

The resolution was filed by Republican Rowan County Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford, and a dozen other GOP House members signed on as co-sponsors.

The resolution grew out of a dispute between the ACLU and the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. In a federal lawsuit filed last month, the American Civil Liberties Union says the board has opened 97 percent of its meetings since 2007 with explicitly Christian prayers.

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.

The resolution also would refuse to acknowledge the force of any judicial ruling on prayer in North Carolina, noting that the First Amendment clause prohibiting government establishment of religion applies to Congress and not to state or local governments.