*(Via Huffington Post) – Although the North Carolina House of Representatives killed a bill Thursday that would have paved the way for establishing an official state religion, a new national HuffPost/YouGov poll finds widespread support for doing so.
The new survey finds that 34 percent of adults would favor establishing Christianity as the official state religion in their own state, while 47 percent would oppose doing so. Thirty-two percent said that they would favor a constitutional amendment making Christianity the official religion of the United States, with 52 percent saying they were opposed.
Although a large percentage of Americans said they would favor establishing a state religion, only 11 percent said they thought the U.S. Constitution allowed states to do so. Fifty-eight percent said they didn’t think it was constitutional, and 31 percent said they were not sure.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment, which (among other things) prohibits the government from establishing an official religion, also applies to the states.
*The Obama administration’s much-criticized abortion/contraceptive mandate went into effect Aug. 1, forcing businesses and religious organizations to carry insurance plans covering contraceptives that can cause chemical abortions, at no cost to the employee, reports the Baptist Press.
It is not known how many businesses and religious organizations are impacted, and in fact, it is possible that most of them are not — yet. That’s because businesses and religious organizations had the option of “grandfathering” the plans they had as of March 23, 2010 — the date the health care law was signed — as long as no major changes had been made since then. That means that if their plan did not include contraceptives then, it does not have to do so now, as long as the grandfathered requirements are met.
Religious organizations not eligible for “grandfathered” status could get a one-year extension until Aug. 1, 2013, but only if their insurance plans, as of Feb. 10 of this year, had not provided any contraceptive coverage due to religious objections.
Religious liberty organizations say the mandate, and its exemptions and loopholes, has multiple problems. Their biggest objection is that, for the first time, the federal government is requiring businesses and religious organizations to cover contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs, something to which they might have strong moral objections. Catholic doctrine opposes all forms of contraceptives, and although Protestants generally don’t oppose all types of contraceptives, they mostly do oppose abortion on demand. The mandate rule, written by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), includes in its definition of “contraceptives” such products as morning-after pills and emergency contraceptives — for instance, Plan B and ella — that can work after fertilization and cause a chemical abortion. Ella even can work after implantation.
*A cross perched atop San Diego’s Mount Soledad for nearly a century is unconstitutional and must be removed, according to a federal court ruling Tuesday.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments that the 43-foot cross should be preserved as a war memorial, ruling that it violated the California Constitution’s “no preference” clause by elevating one religion over all others.
“The use of such a distinctively Christian symbol to honor all veterans sends a strong message of endorsement and exclusion,” said the court in its decision. “It suggests that the government is so connected to a particular religion that it treats the religion’s symbolism as its own, as universal. To many non-Christian veterans, this claim of universality is alienating.”
The court also noted that the site had been used for purposes other than those of honoring fallen soldiers. For many years, Mount Soledad has been a destination for Easter services, and had been listed on maps until the late 1980s as the “Mount Soledad Easter Cross.”