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Author Topic:   Atheists can't hold office in the USA?
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8484
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 1 of 777 (747228)
01-13-2015 12:55 PM


I bumped into this by accident today and was, well, surprised

American states that have anti-atheist laws on their books.

Arkansas, Article 19, Section 1:
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.

Maryland, Article 37:
That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.

Mississippi, Article 14, Section 265:
No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.

North Carolina, Article 6, Section 8
The following persons shall be disqualified for office: Any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.

South Carolina, Article 17, Section 4:
No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.

Tennessee, Article 9, Section 2:
No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.

Texas, Article 1, Section 4:
No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

Apparently these state laws are trumped by the

“No Religious Test Clause” of the United States Constitution, which is found in Article VI, paragraph 3, and 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.

But this doesn't prevent the bigots trying

Cecil Bothwell, an atheist who in 2009 won an election for a Asheville, North Carolina city council seat, was almost unseated by local critics who pointed to a provision in North Carolina’s constitution that prohibited nonbelievers from being elected.

Why do these laws still exist in the US?


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed.

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


Replies to this message:
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Message 2 of 777 (747233)
01-13-2015 1:52 PM


Thread Moved from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
jar
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Posts: 33890
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 3 of 777 (747234)
01-13-2015 2:01 PM


It's hard to modify Constitutions
The big problem is that in most cases it is hard to modify Constitutions but it is easy to pass laws that would override and nullify certain provisions.

Politicians generally take the path that is least likely to hurt their reelection chances.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Tangle, posted 01-13-2015 2:27 PM jar has replied

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8484
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 4 of 777 (747240)
01-13-2015 2:27 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by jar
01-13-2015 2:01 PM


Re: It's hard to modify Constitutions
But why isn't the very existance of those laws unconstitutional? Why aren't atheists campaigning to get them revoked

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed.

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by jar, posted 01-13-2015 2:01 PM jar has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 5 by jar, posted 01-13-2015 2:31 PM Tangle has replied
 Message 22 by dwise1, posted 01-14-2015 3:55 AM Tangle has taken no action

  
jar
Member
Posts: 33890
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 5 of 777 (747243)
01-13-2015 2:31 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Tangle
01-13-2015 2:27 PM


Re: It's hard to modify Constitutions
Application of the laws might turn out to be unconstitutional but the laws themselves cannot be unconstitutional since they are parts of Constitutions.

They are also local in nature and I don't know of any atheist blocks in any state strong enough to get support to change them when there are, as you say, overriding laws already.

The problem is that they are not a problem.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Tangle, posted 01-13-2015 2:27 PM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8484
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 6 of 777 (747246)
01-13-2015 2:37 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by jar
01-13-2015 2:31 PM


Re: It's hard to modify Constitutions
The story above seems to bely that - the guy got enough votes to get elected.

Cecil Bothwell, an atheist who in 2009 won an election for a Asheville, North Carolina city council seat, was almost unseated by local critics who pointed to a provision in North Carolina’s constitution that prohibited nonbelievers from being elected.


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed.

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by jar, posted 01-13-2015 2:31 PM jar has taken no action

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by NoNukes, posted 01-13-2015 3:19 PM Tangle has replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 7 of 777 (747259)
01-13-2015 3:19 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Tangle
01-13-2015 2:37 PM


Re: It's hard to modify Constitutions
Cecil Bothwell, an atheist who in 2009 won an election for a Asheville, North Carolina city council seat, was almost unseated

"almost unseated" is a bit of an exaggeration. More like challenged in court under a state constitutional provision that was clearly unconstitutional under federal law. The law suit went absolutely nowhere.

quote:
Article VI of the U.S. Constitution says: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

The unconstitutionality of the provision of law was well known here in North Carolina. North Carolina allows electees to choose whether between oaths that do and do not include the words "so help me God."


Je Suis Charlie

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. Frederick Douglass


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Tangle, posted 01-13-2015 2:37 PM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by Tangle, posted 01-13-2015 4:24 PM NoNukes has replied

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8484
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 8 of 777 (747272)
01-13-2015 4:24 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by NoNukes
01-13-2015 3:19 PM


Re: It's hard to modify Constitutions
I still don't get how an unconstitutional law is still on the books in some states but not in others. Does this tell us something about those states?

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed.

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by NoNukes, posted 01-13-2015 3:19 PM NoNukes has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by jar, posted 01-13-2015 4:33 PM Tangle has replied
 Message 13 by NoNukes, posted 01-13-2015 5:57 PM Tangle has taken no action

  
jar
Member
Posts: 33890
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 9 of 777 (747273)
01-13-2015 4:33 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Tangle
01-13-2015 4:24 PM


Re: It's hard to modify Constitutions
Not really.

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Tangle, posted 01-13-2015 4:24 PM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by Tangle, posted 01-13-2015 5:20 PM jar has replied
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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8484
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 10 of 777 (747281)
01-13-2015 5:20 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by jar
01-13-2015 4:33 PM


Re: It's hard to modify Constitutions
Just random then? Nothing else in common?

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed.

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by jar, posted 01-13-2015 4:33 PM jar has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by petrophysics1, posted 01-13-2015 5:51 PM Tangle has replied
 Message 12 by jar, posted 01-13-2015 5:55 PM Tangle has taken no action

  
petrophysics1
Inactive Member


Message 11 of 777 (747286)
01-13-2015 5:51 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Tangle
01-13-2015 5:20 PM


Re: It's hard to modify Constitutions
Tangle writes:

Why do these laws still exist in the US?

Why do your tax dollars support the church of England?

Why can the monarch of your country not be Catholic?

Why do you even have a fucking monarch?

Why with less than 3% of the UK being black are they 15% of your prison population?

Why all the anti-Catholic bigotry? You and many of your countrymen sound just like Faith.

I'm sure I could come up with many more questions to ask especially if I had an Irish person to talk to right now. (or a black or a Pakistani)

Actually I don't give a fuck what you do on your POS island. Why are you so concerned with what we do here?

Edited by petrophysics1, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Tangle, posted 01-13-2015 5:20 PM Tangle has replied

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jar
Member
Posts: 33890
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 12 of 777 (747287)
01-13-2015 5:55 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Tangle
01-13-2015 5:20 PM


Re: It's hard to modify Constitutions
Not quite.

The question is "Since the prohibitions are not enforceable and in fact requirements in those states often have been changed so that the question of belief in a Supreme Being never even get asked is there any reason to risk trying to change the Constitutions?"


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 777 (747288)
01-13-2015 5:57 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Tangle
01-13-2015 4:24 PM


Re: It's hard to modify Constitutions
I still don't get how an unconstitutional law is still on the books in some states but not in others. Does this tell us something about those states?

I don't think it tells us anything much.

Revoking laws that are found to be unconstitutional requires legislative action that often nobody bothers with. It's also the case that amending state constitutions can be pretty difficult. In this case, North Carolina's modification of the oath of office pretty may well be the best that can be done.

It is currently the case that North Carolina can have unconstitutional laws on the books which the legislature may not have the power to remove. For example, the NC constitutional provision against recognizing same sex marriages has been found unconstitutional in the 4th district court. However the provision was put there by public referendum. Not sure how to remove it.

Now admittedly if the law were unpopular, there might be some motivation to do a ceremonial removal. I believe some states actually ratified some of the anti-slavery amendments fairly late in the 20th century. But often nobody bothers.

The federal constitution and other sources of federal law likely also contain provisions that are unconstitutional. The Fugitive Slave Clause is moot for all practical purposes. But that Clause has not been invalidated by constitutional amendment.

Of course, regarding the people who dig up those laws and try to enforce them, their actions do tell us much.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


Je Suis Charlie

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. Frederick Douglass


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Tangle, posted 01-13-2015 4:24 PM Tangle has taken no action

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8484
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 14 of 777 (747292)
01-13-2015 6:20 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by petrophysics1
01-13-2015 5:51 PM


Re: It's hard to modify Constitutions
Ouch, did that touch a nerve?

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed.

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by petrophysics1, posted 01-13-2015 5:51 PM petrophysics1 has taken no action

  
Theodoric
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Posts: 7309
From: Northwest, WI, USA
Joined: 08-15-2005
Member Rating: 3.0


(4)
Message 15 of 777 (747294)
01-13-2015 6:33 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by petrophysics1
01-13-2015 5:51 PM


Re: It's hard to modify Constitutions
If you don't want to constructively participate, why don't you just not post. Because you look like an asshole.

I am sure you are breaking more than a few forum rules. But more importantly your just being a dick.


Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts

"God did it" is not an argument. It is an excuse for intellectual laziness.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by petrophysics1, posted 01-13-2015 5:51 PM petrophysics1 has taken no action

Replies to this message:
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