Welcoming to a New State?

Welcoming to a New State? December 5, 2016

Editor’s Note: Regular Rational Doubt blog poster and TCP member, Chris Highland, has left his Western paradise in Northern California to live in the Eastern paradise of North Carolina. Seriously – the mountains in the Asheville area are beautiful, as I learned while driving from the airport there to one of my atheist-pastor interviews.

The politics in NC are a lot different from California, as Chris is finding out, but not in a “different-but-still-beautiful” way. Republican Governor, Pat McCrory, signed a bill restricting transgender bathroom usage that resulted in a lot of lost opportunities for revenue for the state, as business and sports entities found other, more accepting, states to do business with. Now, McCrory refuses to accept the gubernatorial election results showing that his Democratic rival, Roy Cooper, has won, even as the state went red for the presidency. Update:  Governor McCrory conceded in this tweet at 12:42 PM 12/5/16.  We’re counting on Chris to keep a close eye on North Carolina politics (and its natural beauty, of course). This post, pointing out pro-religion language in the State Constitution, is a good start.

=======================

By Chris Highland

I recently moved to North Carolina.

(I know, I know — The state where you have to choose your bathrooms carefully.)

I moved for family and for the natural beauty.

BLue Ridge Mountains North Carolina

Nature can’t be tainted by the politics (though it can be harmed by ignorant decisions).

I’m not sure yet what I will do here, but maybe I won’t run for public office.

I was scanning over the State Constitution of my new state and found these “welcoming lines” from Article VI:

Sec. 7. Oath.

Before entering upon the duties of an office, a person elected or appointed to the office shall take and subscribe the following oath:

“I, _______________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and maintain the Constitution and laws of the United States, and the Constitution and laws of North Carolina not inconsistent therewith, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of my office as _______________, so help me God.

Sec. 8. Disqualifications for office.

The following persons shall be disqualified for office:

First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.

Second, with respect to any office that is filled by election by the people, any person who is not qualified to vote in an election for that office.

Third, any person who has been adjudged guilty of treason or any other felony against this State or the United States, or any person who has been adjudged guilty of a felony in another state that also would be a felony if it had been committed in this State, or any person who has been adjudged guilty of corruption or malpractice in any office, or any person who has been removed by impeachment from any office, and who has not been restored to the rights of citizenship in the manner prescribed by law.

Note that the VERY FIRST disqualification for public office is about FAITH.

Given that the PREAMBLE for the NC State Constitution sets the whole tone for “public” service:

We, the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations [acknowledge] our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those blessings….

I guess Freethinkers like me aren’t much welcome in these parts.

But, so far I feel pretty much welcome.  Nice folks.  And I love the green, the birdsongs, the lightning bugs. Lots of beauty – beyond belief.  Yes, Beyond Belief.

Water fall NC

We’ll see how it goes.  I probably won’t try to run for office – right now.

See what YOUR state constitution says.  THEN consider how this stands against the Constitution of the UNITED STATES:

…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Oddly enough (or purposely?), this is Article Six.  The same as Article VI in the NC Constitution.

Isn’t “Leadership” a strange thing?

**Editor’s Questions** What suggestions for secular leadership do you have for North Carolina or for your state – or for your country?

======================

Chris Highland was a Protestant Minister and Interfaith Chaplain for many years. He renounced his ordination in 2001. He is the author of My Address is a River, Nature is Enough and ten other books. Chris is currently a member of The Clergy Project, the American Humanist Association and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, while he blogs at Secular Chaplain. He teaches a class on early American freethinkers at the Reuter Center, UNCA. Chris and his (reverend) wife Carol, live in the mountains of North Carolina. To learn more see www.chighland.com.  The current post is reprinted with permission from his blog.

>>>>Photo Credits: By Ken Thomas – KenThomas.us(personal website of photographer), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2614888 ; By Sdrtm at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6281859

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  • Gregory Mullaley

    Ah, North Carolina, where the majority still look for dates at the annual family reunion. Happy Birthday Uncle-Dad!

  • So, before the Carolina bashing gets into full swing. . .
    I hasten to add to my post that NC is still a Purple state.
    Mr. Trumpery may have “won the state” in some minds,
    but he won by about 3 percentage points.
    Progressive voters may be in the minority, but not by much.

    Also, when I quoted the state constitution clause in the local paper, one reply said I was misleading, since it was unenforceable given the U.S. Constitution. My reply, in part, was, “openly secular people are generally not represented in office because they are not trusted or, worse, simply despised for not being a part of the dominant religious culture. So, though it may not be legally enforceable to deny a non-theist full rights and privileges of leadership, in practice there is a barrier, that begins in the mind.”

    • Linda_LaScola

      And as of today NC has a Democratic Governor – Roy Cooper.

      McCrory finally conceded. See update in the editor’s note.

  • ElizabetB.

    Drama in this purple state this week… Klan drove through small NC town Saturday to celebrate Trump presidency http://www.wral.com/roxboro-police-to-host-monday-meeting-after-ku-klux-klan-parades/16304265/ ; police chief held press conference today repudiating group & announcing prayer vigil tomorrow https://twitter.com/ChiefDavidHess/status/805824661279817728 ; a multi-racial group has been meeting quarterly (BASIC — Brothers & Sisters in Conversation), prep for next meeting being to take the Harvard implicit bias test.

    A prayer vigil may fit this pretty solidly traditional community and deeply religious African American presence… but I was wondering about it… maybe it could have been called something like a candlelight vigil…. your posts makes me reflect that BASIC probably needs to expand into implicit bias against freethinkers.

    So happy you are in NC, Chris!!! All, do direct good energy southeastward!!!!!

    • ElizabetB.

      [Technical question… I’m starting to get embedded pix that I can’t dismiss when I copy a URL… any advice how to avoid them?]

      • Linda_LaScola

        can’t help you, but hope someone can

      • Jim Jones

        Try putting around the link (remove the spaces).

        • ElizabetB.

          Many thanks!! Very happy to have something to try!!

  • ElizabetB.

    Drama in this purple state this week… Klan drove through small NC town Saturday to celebrate Trump presidency http://www.wral.com/roxboro-police-to-host-monday-meeting-after-ku-klux-klan-parades/16304265/
    .
    Police chief held press conference today repudiating group & announcing prayer vigil tomorrow https://twitter.com/ChiefDavidHess/status/805824661279817728
    .
    A multi-racial group has been meeting quarterly (BASIC — Brothers & Sisters in Conversation), prep for next meeting is to take the Harvard implicit bias test.
    .
    A prayer vigil may fit this pretty solidly traditional community and deeply religious African American presence… but I was wondering about it… maybe it could have been called something like a candlelight vigil…. your posts makes me reflect that BASIC probably needs to expand into implicit bias against freethinkers.
    So happy you are in NC, Chris!!! All, do direct good energy southeastward!!!!!

    • Yes, Elizabeth, I saw that. Awful. And good for us all to keep in mind that the Klan (like the Messiah-Elect) is just the ugliest face of a cross-section of dumbed-down voters. There really are a lot of good things going on in NC. . .and, I would venture, in many “red” states.

      • ElizabetB.

        [Here’s the comment Chris is responding to — minus the mega picture I couldn’t edit out. Learning process!!]

        Drama in this purple state this week… Klan drove through small NC town Saturday to celebrate Trump presidency http://www.wral.com/roxboro-police-to-host-monday-meeting-after-ku-klux-klan-parades/16304265/
        .
        Police chief held press conference today repudiating group & announcing prayer vigil tomorrow http://www.wral.com/news/video/16308525/

        A multi-racial group has been meeting quarterly (BASIC — Brothers & Sisters in Conversation); prep for next meeting is to take the Harvard implicit bias test.
        .
        A prayer vigil may fit this pretty solidly traditional community and deeply religious African American presence… but I was wondering about it… maybe it could have been called something like a candlelight vigil…. your posts make me reflect that BASIC probably needs to expand into implicit bias against freethinkers.
        .
        So happy you are in NC, Chris!!! All, do direct good energy southeastward!!!!!