Is North Carolina the Most Intolerant State?

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It’s starting to look that way.

North Carolina state legislators have recently made statements and proposed legislation that support such a claim.  By now, everyone has heard about the proposed bill to declare an official religion.  It was proposed on 4/2/13 by two Republican legislators, supported by 11 more, and finally shot down by the House Speaker two days later.  House resolution 494 would have allowed the state to ignore the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment as well as federal court rulings.  It was proposed as a countermeasure against a lawsuit filed by the ACLU to stop Rowan County, NC county commission meetings from opening with a Christian prayer.

As if that proposed legislation weren’t intolerant enough, one of the supporters of the bill, Republican state Rep. Michele Presnell of Burnsville has equated Islamic prayer with terrorism in an email to a constituent.  According to the News & Observer, a NC-based Pulitzer winning paper, when challenged whether or not it would be ok with her if meetings began with a prayer to Allah, Presnell responded. “No, I do not condone terrorism.”  She later added, “We just need to start taking a stand on our religious freedom or it will be whisked away from us.”

So according to Presnell, taking a stand for your religious freedom means declaring an official state religion, ignoring the Constitutionally-provided freedom from government-sponsored religion, and refusing to allow public prayer from any non-Christian faiths.  Yup, sounds like freedom to me!

But wait, there’s more!  Small government loving Republicans in North Carolina have proposed another piece of legislation that will force a two year waiting period on any couple seeking divorce.  Oh, the irony.  The bill, poorly nicknamed the “Healthy Marriage Act,” would not only extend the existing one year waiting period to two years, but it would require couples seeking divorce to attend “communication skills” and “conflict resolution” counseling sessions.  These counseling sessions would not be paid for by the state, so if couples cannot afford counseling, it appears they’ll be unable to end their marriages.  What’s more, in its current form, the bill has no provisions for victims of abuse, meaning that abused spouses would be required to sit in counseling with their abusers to talk about healthy communication.  Well that should fix everything.  Finally, the (un)Healthy Marriage Act would remove current waiting period verbiage that states isolated instances of sexual intercourse don’t count against the waiting period.  Removing this line could mean that an isolated hookup with your soon-to-be ex would start the 2-year waiting period over again if the courts could prove that it occurred.

Other legislation being considered includes:  tax penalties for parents of children who register to vote at their college address (in an attempt to keep Democratic young voters from registering and/or voting), as well as criminalization of the enforcement of federal law on guns and ammo produced in North Carolina.

Tack on the state constitutional amendment passed last year to outlaw gay marriage, and you’re left with one big pool of intolerance.  If you’re not a happily married straight Christian Republican with no dependents in college that want to vote, then you’re not welcome in North Carolina.

What’s next for North Carolina?  Give them about 3 days and I’m sure another doozie will hit the press.

Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and author of Understanding an Atheist. He is known for local and national secular activism and has spoken at conferences and events such as Reason Rally 2016 and the Ark Encounter Protest and Rally.

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6 thoughts on “Is North Carolina the Most Intolerant State?

  1. The proposed law that protects gun owner’s rights is a good thing. Everything else is hogwash though. North Carolina can be an interesting place, and not always in a good way.

    1. Thanks for the comment Justin. I understand the state wanting to protect gun owners’ rights. But making it a criminal offense to enforce federal law on firearms made in NC seems a bit extreme to me. So if the federal gov’t passes new background check requirements, it would be illegal for a federal agency to enforce those laws in NC on guns made in NC?? It’s just another instance of NC legislators thinking federal law does not apply to their state. It’s a violation of the 14th Amendment.

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