State Constitution: Deny God? Lose elected seat - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

State Constitution: Deny God? Lose elected seat

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ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

Prayer in the name of Jesus has been a hot topic in Rowan County for more than a year and this week state lawmakers attempted to pick up the fight.  But the belief in God is actually built into the state's Constitution.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked Rowan County Commissioners to stop opening public meetings with sectarian prayer more than a year ago.

Two state representatives, with Rowan County ties, filed a joint resolution called the Rowan County Defense of Religion Act of 2013.

The resolution, an attempt to back county commissioner's use of sectarian prayer in meetings, was co-sponsored by nine other Republican Representatives from across the state.

The proposed resolution says citizens should not lose First Amendment protection "by virtue of their appointment, election, contract, employment, or otherwise engagement," and "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."

NC House Speaker, Thom Tillis, announced on Thursday that the resolution would not be voted on and the resolution was considered dead.

But the argument between church and state still exists.

In fact, the North Carolina Constitution states that anyone who denies God should be disqualified from holding an elected office.

According to Article 6, Section 8 of the North Carolina State Constitution:

"The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God."

But this is also a case of federal preemption, when federal law trumps state law.

According to Article 6 of U.S. Constitution: "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

"The U.S. Constitution clearly states that 'no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States,' said Mike Meno with the ACLU.

"Religious belief is a deeply personal issue, and the freedom to decide what to believe and whether and how to worship is a right that applies equally to people of all faiths and none at all," he continued. "Religious tests for office are not just clearly unconstitutional -- they also violate the core principle of religious liberty for all that has guided our nation since its founding."

The Preamble to the state constitution also calls for citizens to be grateful to God and to acknowledge our dependence on him for continued civil, polictical and religious liberties.

"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."

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