Friday, June 1, 2012

Seven states ban atheists from holding public office

I didn't believe this was true until I looked up the code sections myself.

For example, the Arkansas Constitution not only disqualifies atheists from holding public office, but also testifying as a witness in any Court.
Section I. Article 19:
§ 1. Atheists disqualified from holding office or testifying as witness.
No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.
Such provisions would not stand up to a court challenge. In Torcaso v. Watkins (1961), the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that the U.S. Constitution prohibits religious tests for public office. Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution states that:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
Notwithstanding this longstanding precedent, it is still likely impossible for an atheist to become President of the United States.
Explicitly overturning these statutes might be a first step in changing the attitudes of the general public regarding atheist politicians.  It is offensive to atheists that such antiquated provisions are still considered the law in some states.  

1 comment:

  1. Hi, my name is Mike and I am currently working on a book called, 'How to Debate Atheists.' I have completed the first three chapters and would appreciate any feedback.