By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
February 4, 2021
Plato said, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” If this is true, it should be noted that the North Carolina General Assembly is off to an interesting start in 2021. In addition to working on measures having to do with COVID relief, lawmakers have filed some bills that are likely to grab citizen Christians’ attention. Here are just four that the Christian Action League is monitoring.
H.B. 31 – Detected Heartbeat/Prohibit Abortion – A heartbeat bill such as H.B. 31 would prohibit unless there is a medical emergency, an abortion from being performed after an unborn child is determined to have a detectable human heart. Although heartbeat measures have passed in numerous states, they suffer legal challenges as to their constitutionality. However, some abortion opponents hope these legal challenges will serve as a vehicle for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Former Vice President Mike Pence has reportedly said concerning heartbeat legislation, “I love, love, love this bill.”
Primary Sponsors of H.B. 31 include Representatives Keith Kidwell (R- Beaufort), Bobby Hanig (R-Currituck), George Cleveland (Onslow), and Carson Smith (R-Columbus).
The Christian Action League supports this legislation.
H.B. 8 – N.C. Adopt Equal Rights Amendment – The Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was first proposed in 1923. It was passed by Congress in 1972, pending ratification by at least 38 states. Congress set a seven-year time limit for that process and later extended the deadline to 1982. Even then, just 35 states had endorsed the amendment, and five of them withdrew their ratifications before the initial deadline. North Carolina is among 14 states that never ratified the ERA.
While “equal rights” sounds like a simple call for fair treatment to both genders, in truth, the amendment would have had many negative repercussions.
“The ERA would have considered all restrictions on abortions as sex discrimination and been used to overturn the partial-birth abortion ban, third-trimester abortion ban, and parental notice of minors seeking an abortion. It would have also been used to mandate taxpayer funding of elective Medicaid abortions,” Liberty Counsel reported.
The Christian advocacy group said the amendment would also compel females to compete against males in sports; abolish female privacy in prisons, locker rooms, women’s shelters, nursing homes and hospitals; subject women to selective service registration and front-line ground combat; end all incentives for women-owned businesses; end female scholarships; end women-only sports programs; abolish alimony guidelines; end lower auto and other insurance rates for women, and treat any legal distinction based on sex the same as racial discrimination.
H.B. 8 is championed by Representatives Julie Van Haefen (D-Wake), Carla D. Cunningham (D-Mecklenburg), Susan C. Fisher (D-Buncombe), and Evelyn Terry (D-Forsyth).
The Christian Action League opposes this legislation.
H.B. 41 – Amend Lawful Age to Marry – This legislation seeks to amend the lawful age to marry in North Carolina to 18 years old or older. According to North Carolina statutes, teens as young as 14 and 15 can get court approval to be married with parental consent due to a “pregnancy exception,” where one is pregnant or has become a parent. Teens as young as 16 and 17-years-old can also marry with parental consent. No parental consent is necessary for anyone over 18.
A primary argument in favor of the change is that neighboring states have already changed their child marriage laws and prohibit it. North Carolina is tied with Alaska for having the lowest age to marry. Proponents argue that the Tar Heel state could become a regional destination for child marriage under the current circumstances. Research shows the devastating effects of early marriages on young girls, and in some cases, child marriage is linked with human trafficking and other forms of abuse and exploitation.
Primary Sponsors of the measure include Representatives Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), Kirstin Baker (R-Cabarrus), Ashton Wheeler (D-Guilford), Brian Turner (D-Buncombe).
S.B. 35 is companion legislation on the Senate side.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said the H.B. 41 seems like “a no-brainer, and it seems this is something the League would heartily support.” But he added he wanted to be cautious and check with the bill sponsors on a few things before throwing the League’s full support behind it.
S.B. 43 – Protect Religious Meeting Places – North Carolina law allows firearms in churches unless the church prohibits them. Nevertheless, the state forbids guns in schools. So what happens, in this day of escalating church shootings, if your church is meeting in a school building as many currently do across the state? It could only mean parishioners would be entirely vulnerable for some mass shooter motivated by ethnoreligious, anti-Christian hate, or some other ungodly reason.
This gap in protection for churchgoers became the concern of former Rep. Rena Turner (R-Iredell) in 2020. She sought to address the problem in H.B. 110-Protect Religious Meeting Places. Turner’s bill would have authorized persons with a concealed handgun permit to carry a concealed handgun, under certain conditions, on education property that doubles as a school and a place of worship. The gun, however, could only be taken on educational property outside of school operating hours.
The legislation was more than reasonable. It passed the North Carolina House, but it was never taken up and died a quiet death when it got to the Senate Rules Committee. Thus, churches or church groups in North Carolina meeting in schools today are left as defenseless as shooting fish in a barrel.
S.B. 43 is the same bill as HB 110, which was taken-up last year. It’s another attempt to get this crucial protection for churches passed, but this time starting on the Senate side.
Primary sponsors include Senators Danny Earl Britt, Jr (R-Robeson), Warren Daniel (R-Avery), and Todd Johnson (R-Union).
The Christian Action League strongly supports this bill.
This is not an exhaustive list of the measures with which citizen Christians would likely be interested in this legislative session. There are more, and still, more are expected to come down the pike.
The Christian Action League urges all of its supporters to read its weekly e-newsletter, The Christian Action League Insider, to stay abreast of the latest. You can sign-up for the free service here. When you do, you’ll also receive the League’s Urgent Action Alerts, which provide you with an opportunity to weigh in with your lawmaker and make a difference in the legislative process.
To see an example of the Christian Action League Insider, check out last week’s edition here.