The nullifiers can spin, but they can’t hide

That deafening sound you hear in Raleigh this morning is the right-wing propaganda machine whirring mightily to try to distance its political leaders from the nullification resolution signed by almost 20 percent of the Republicans in the House, including the House Majority Leader and a key budget writer.

House Joint Resolution 494 calls for the creation of an official state religion and proclaims that North Carolina is not subject to decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court. The absurd legislation prompted national ridicule and scorn and yesterday Speaker Thom Tillis announced that the resolution was dead in the House.

Right-wing politicians and pundits have been frantically trying to downplay the incident, explaining the technical differences between a bill and resolution, complaining about the media coverage, even praising Tillis for his leadership in the killing the proposal.

One prominent think tanker decreed today that his organization, which has barely covered the controversy,  tends to “reserve our own reporting for issues of true public concern and significance.”

It seems pretty significant when a fifth of the members of the House Republican Caucus signs on to an official call for ignoring the federal constitution and the federal courts and establishing a state religion.

Expect the right-wing spin machine to stay in overdrive for a while and sadly some folks in the media are abetting the efforts of House Republicans to run away from their signatures.

The story in the News & Observer this morning said that the “resolution originally had a dozen co-sponsors, but it did not get the support of House leadership.”

The resolution actually had 14 signers and the last time I checked the House Majority Leader was a key part of the House leadership, as were the folks in charge of putting the budget together.

They can try all they want to, but their support of George Wallace style nullification is now part of the public record and cannot be erased. But come to think of it, it’s probably a good idea to get a screen shot of that resolution just in case.


  1. Regina

    April 5, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Be a great: “Do you remember when the NC Republicans brought national ridicule to our state when they wanted to start their own religion?”, story. Yeah we need to make sure they don’t get into position to embarrass us again. I shall tell it with great enthusiasm.

  2. Frances Jenkins

    April 5, 2013 at 8:05 am

    The county commissioners of Rowan County request a RESOLUTION to say a prayer at a public meeting. The result was a story the state is trying to sponsor religion. More than 90 counties and school boards open their meetings with prayer. You will not take on that issue because you would lose lots of Democrat support. I have a suggestion for Chris. Make that your project in NC of stopping prayer in every public meeting in NC. Travel to some of the small rural Democrat counties in eastern NC and take Rachel Maddow with you. Demand they run their meetings as you and Maddow tell them. Hit the desk tell them if they do not stop praying in public meetings, you will bring in the ACLU and they will receive a very large fine. Then the entire story will be in the public eye and you will be for real.
    You will take any opportunity to blow up a story to show Republicans in a negative light. Blueprint is hard at work and you are their mouthpiece. Identify the Republicans as right wing, crazy, demonize them and the corrupt Democrats will regain control. How in the world are you a nonprofit?

  3. Doug

    April 5, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Lot of hysteria over a resolution that was going nowhere in the first place. And like they were going to come up with some new religion Regina….really? Just think about it…I know you guys are scared to death that something will replace your chosen religion of government but do you really think they were coming up with some new religion?

  4. rick

    April 5, 2013 at 9:32 am

    The republicans who want to govern should do so and try to persuade their partners to do the same, as for those who wish to preach and teach religion; quit the government and return to your church and teach Sunday school.
    You were sent to Raleigh to do one job, govern, not to try your hand at social engineering. We have too great a need for economic development than harping on religion, bedrooms and marriage.

  5. Alex

    April 5, 2013 at 9:33 am

    For folks who don’t care much for religion, the progressive community spends a lot of time talking about it for some reason.

  6. Susan Moses

    April 5, 2013 at 10:01 am

    The irony of this measure is that the GA tries to pass a resolution for an official state religion (their fundamentalist, teabagger brand of Christianity), yet it doesn’t want to expand medicaid coverage for 500,000 NC folks without healthcare.

  7. Gene Bridges

    April 5, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Frances writes: The county commissioners of Rowan County request a RESOLUTION to say a prayer at a public meeting. The result was a story the state is trying to sponsor religion. More than 90 counties and school boards open their meetings with prayer.

    That’s a half truth, Frances. The county commissioners aren’t just opening their meetings with prayer – which the ACLU has not opposed – they are insisting on using the formula “in Jesus name.” This has erupted over the use of the phrase “in Jesus name” in prayers locally. That’s it. Seriously. Even though there is no prohibition to pray in a manner that uses a another form of address for God – none of which, by their own yardstick are objectionable terms of address in Christian prayer – they have dug their heels in on this. It’s happening because these men who are doing it are hardcore fundamentalists who are clinging to their erroneous exegesis of John 14:13 and 14. They use those two verses alone to justify the use of that phrase, reducing the meaning of those verses to a magic phrase that they feel compelled to say to legitimize their prayers to God. (It’s not, those verses mean that we should pray in a manner glorifying to God – an extension of the words “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” in the Lord’s Prayer. There’s nothing especially liberal about that. Crack any standard evangelical commentary on that text, and you’ll find that there.) Now, as a result of this controversy, they’ve even gone so far to continue doing it, which reduces prayer from an act of worship to a public demonstration – a political statement. That, according to their own yardstick, *should* be blasphemy, not worship, yet they continue on.

    When other ministers, who, by their own yardstick are just as theologically conservative, have tried to speak up, they have been ignored, even mocked. These are people who truly embody the stereotype of the ignorant, bigoted, legalistic Pharisee. Most of them, in my personal opinion, probably wouldn’t know the Gospel if it walked up to them and spoke. They are the living examples of Mr. Worldly Wise and Legality in Pilgrim’s Progress; their churches are, and I’ve got relatives in some of those churches, so I know them well, despite what they profess, more often than not living examples of the town of Morality in the same book. Moralism and legalism reign supreme there, not the Gospel. I’ve known Baptist pastors who have been run out of those churches for preaching against justification by faith plus works (specifically baptism), out of Galatians or telling people that you don’t need to pray a sacramental prayer to “ask Jesus into your heart,” in order to be saved – you only need to have saving faith in Christ alone. *That is how far they have sunk down there.* It’s sickening, and that’s the cesspool of ignorance and legalism from which this has come. On this issue, Frances, their rights under the First Amendment is subordinate to their duty as Christians to interpret and apply Scripture properly – and that’s true all the time, everywhere, in all times and places, for the whole covenant community.

    This is what happens when people treat the words “In Jesus Name” as a divine mandate. They won’t admit their exegetical fail of the text of John 14, and when corrected by ecclesiastical betters, they still cling to it. When corrected by the courts, they still cling to it, and now, they’re trying to nullify the First Amendment – as if the Constitution doesn’t apply in Rowan County. What will happen to them now is that they will wind up in a worse place than they are now, and they will, if they are not disciplined by their local churches for it drag the rest of us down with them by calling the churches into scandal and disrepute – as if there could be more to pile upon them.

    Typing the words “resolution” in all caps doesn’t negate the content of the bill. The bill was very clear that it relied on the Tenth Amendment to nullify the First and in the second section of the bill they tried to use it to nullify the 14th. By the way, trying to nullify the First Amendment also serves as a tacit admission that the First Amendment does, in fact, prohibit sectarian prayers through the establishment of civil religion of a specific sort. If it didn’t, they wouldn’t be seeking to nullify it. That’s elementary logic, but elementary logic doesn’t seem to be the forte of the Tea Party, or you.

    I will agree with you. Chris doesn’t need to take Rachel Maddow through the counties of rural NC on a tour. What he needs is somebody who can speak to those folks on their own level from the Bible about this issue. I’m a believer. I’m extremely theologically conservative – my theology is from the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689. I attend a PCA church in Winston-Salem. I’ll volunteer for that duty, because, what they need to hear in those churches is some sound exegesis that gets them out of the “in Jesus name” habit of prayer. Breaking people of that habit is like trying to break children of chewing their fingernails. They need to be corrected from the Scriptures and taught how to pray. The Baptists among them could also use a church history lesson – look up John Leland sometime and see what he had to say about establishments of state religion. He must be turning in his grave over this.

  8. Frances Jenkins

    April 7, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Actually it is people like Gene Bridges who influence people never to darken the door of a church house ever. You think you know more than God and you certainly are better than the poor and dumb that do not see things your way.You are smarter, better, purer and you have just told us so. I am offended!

  9. Doug Gibson

    April 9, 2013 at 9:31 am


    Whoops. Sorry. You just revealed what this whole thing is about. A sectarian attempt to impose a particular brand of Christianity on to the face of a government elected by everyone in Rowan County. And when someone points that out, all you can say is, “I’m offended that you should have a different view on a faith I regard as exclusively mine!”

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