When I first heard about an attempt by a group of North Carolina legislators to establish a state religion for that state in direct challenge to the U.S. Constitution I was both surprised and not so surprised. It's not the first time that groups have argued for the primacy of state's rights. But this seems a rather flagrant violation. Fortunately saner heads prevailed and the effort failed. What is interesting in all of this -- as Nathan Walker points out -- North Carolina was a leader in disestablishment -- disestablishing the Church of England in 1776 -- fifteen years prior to the passage of the Bill of Rights. Besides that, when readmitted to the Union under the 14th Amendment, North Carolina agreed that they would abide by the U.S. Constitution.
I invite you to read this piece, but also consider what religious liberty really means. When does an infringement on religious freedom occur? We're seeing a big debate over contraception, for instance, with groups claiming that the requirement to provide it in health plans is an infringement on one's religious freedoms. This idea is being extended not only to religious organizations, like churches, but businesses owned by religious persons (Hobby Lobby, for instance). This is a discussion that's not going away, so maybe this can be a test case. What do you think?