RALEIGH, N.C., April 3 (UPI) -- Republican lawmakers in North Carolina introduced legislation to allow the state to establish an official religion.
The bill introduced Monday is titled the "Defense of Religion Act," The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported. The measure's backers say it is a response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union aimed at banning Christian prayers from Rowan County government meetings.
The lawsuit asserts that the First Amendment prohibition on an established church doesn't apply to state and local governments. Critics say that the courts will rule otherwise if the bill becomes law.
"The bill sponsors fundamentally misunderstand constitutional law and the principle of the separation of powers that dates back to the founding of this country," ACLU of North Carolina Legal Director Chris Brook said in a statement.
The ACLU sued the Rowan County commissioners on behalf of several county residents more than a year after the county was asked to stop its specifically Christian prayers.