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Warren says he regrets handling of resolution on religion

SALISBURY — N.C. Rep. Harry Warren (R-Salisbury) said Thursday he regrets any embarrassment caused by a religious resolution that swept Rowan County into a national firestorm earlier this week.
Warren said the resolution — which was effectively killed in its first committee hearing Thursday — was intended only to support Rowan County commissioners in their sectarian prayer lawsuit.
But wording in the resolution, penned by Kings Mountain city councilman Keith Miller, led critics to accuse Warren and primary co-sponsor Carl Ford (R-China Grove) with attempting to establish a state religion.
“Due to the fact that it was poorly written and had language that was ambiguous,” Warren said, “it lent itself to misinterpretation.”
Warren said part of the misunderstanding was that North Carolina residents, as well as the national media, called the resolution a “bill” and ignited the possibility that established religion could become law.
“I was truly amazed at how viral this thing went,” Warren said, noting he had a message from a British Broadcasting Corp. correspondent Thursday afternoon.
“Even more appalling was that … our news media, nationally, absolutely refused — or failed to investigate — something that they were reporting on,” he said.
Warren said he withdrew support of the resolution before Thursday’s hearing “due to the ambiguous language.”
“I regret any embarrassment or concern that it has caused the citizens of Rowan County and North Carolina, but it was not intended to do that,” he said.
Ford and Warren signed the resolution after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Rowan County commissioners in March.
The ACLU accused commissioners of beginning commissioner meetings with “unconstitutional” sectarian prayer.
Commissioners have continued to pray at county meetings in the weeks since the action was filed in a Greensboro federal court. Two weeks ago, they hired defense attorney David Gibbs of the National Center for Life and Liberty.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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