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States ban atheists from holding political office
Posted: 11 December 2013 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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ptive audience in my office I am not sure that is the proper place to proselytize to people about religious issues. I wouldn’t want to be confronted with christian or muslim literature when I go to the doctor so I think it would be hypocritical for me to do the same. When a patient goes to the doctor the only the doctors only focus should be on helping them with their health issues, not trying to convert them

Sorry Mac, I was being facetious, hence the snarky smiley face. You’re absolutely right about proselytizing our disbelief. I’ve always maintained as did Swift that you can’t reason someone out of something that they weren’t reasoned into in the first place. Here, for example you can find bible tracts left in the men’s room of most restaurants. So no I don’t advocate conversion. It’ll happen naturally if it happens at all.


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Posted: 11 December 2013 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 10 December 2013 05:13 AM

Want to run for city council in Mississippi? Well, you can’t if you don’t swear that there is a “supreme Being”. Same in Maryland, South Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Tennessee (no surprise there). Over half of Americans polled stated that they wouldn’t vote for a qualified candidate if they knew he/she was an atheist. I know that this comes as no surprise to most of you but in rhe political arena we are on the bottom of the totem pole, ranking behind the LGBT community. The irony here is that such tests are unconstitutional! Yet due to popular opinion in those States, these antiquated laws remain active. Anyone on this forum ever run for a political office in any of the above mentioned States? I’m curious.

Cap’t Jack

There is a law or a Constitutional interpretation that there can be no religious test for running for or holding political office. This includes “no religion”. These laws should be challenged.

Herb Silverman of South Carolina successfully challenged that state’s restrictions on atheists. I don’t know if they continue to flout the Constitution there. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are doing it.

Go here:http://www.herbsilverman.com/candidate-without-a-prayer.html

[ Edited: 11 December 2013 12:50 PM by Lois ]
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Posted: 12 December 2013 05:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Is there a reference for this law somewhere?

In any case, I wonder what would happen if people in these states were to go back to the colonial era.
http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2007/02/the-us-founding-fathers-their-religious-beliefs/

Granted, these beliefs may not be atheism, but it would be interesting scenario nonetheless.

Shame people cant tolerate each other.

Read my second post I.J. The U.S. Constitution expressly Forbids any religious test to qualify for any public office, state or national. And in the colonial period most had religious tests but these were denominational, e.g. One had to be a member of the Anglican Church in most colonies. That, BTW is precisely why they forbid any religious test; so that one denomination wouldn’t control the government to the exclusion of the others. If you’re interesting in any additional research you may want to start with the book Moral Minority, Our Skeptical Founding Fathers. It explodes the myth that the framers wanted to create a xtian government and provides written evidence that the key framers were Diests at best.


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Posted: 12 December 2013 07:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 12 December 2013 05:38 AM

Is there a reference for this law somewhere?

In any case, I wonder what would happen if people in these states were to go back to the colonial era.
http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2007/02/the-us-founding-fathers-their-religious-beliefs/

Granted, these beliefs may not be atheism, but it would be interesting scenario nonetheless.

Shame people cant tolerate each other.

Read my second post I.J. The U.S. Constitution expressly Forbids any religious test to qualify for any public office, state or national. And in the colonial period most had religious tests but these were denominational, e.g. One had to be a member of the Anglican Church in most colonies. That, BTW is precisely why they forbid any religious test; so that one denomination wouldn’t control the government to the exclusion of the others. If you’re interesting in any additional research you may want to start with the book Moral Minority, Our Skeptical Founding Fathers. It explodes the myth that the framers wanted to create a xtian government and provides written evidence that the key framers were Diests at best.


Cap’t Jack


I would bet that some in those states would claim that belief in god is not a religion and that asking whether a candidate believes in god does not flout the Constitutional ban on a religious test.

They would try it, anyway. They are shameless.

Lois

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Posted: 16 December 2013 01:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 12 December 2013 05:38 AM

Is there a reference for this law somewhere?

In any case, I wonder what would happen if people in these states were to go back to the colonial era.
http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2007/02/the-us-founding-fathers-their-religious-beliefs/

Granted, these beliefs may not be atheism, but it would be interesting scenario nonetheless.

Shame people cant tolerate each other.

Read my second post I.J. The U.S. Constitution expressly Forbids any religious test to qualify for any public office, state or national. And in the colonial period most had religious tests but these were denominational

Cap’t Jack

I get you, I was pointing out the stupidity of the law by emphasizing that if many of our Founding Fathers weren’t even christian, then religion shouldn’t play a big role in determing the American government officials.

Now if America was run by Biblical laws, that might be a different case.
But suffice it so say, that is not the case.

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Posted: 16 December 2013 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Just finished watching Roderick Bradford’s new set of DVDs American Freethought.  It is a very good coverage of free thought in the USA.  Naturally he gives Thomas Paine much of the credit for getting it started,  I knew about Jefferson’s views, what I learned was Ethan Allen was also a free thinker (deist) and wrote a book “Reason, the Only Oracle of Man Or a Compendius System of Natural Religion.  The 4 disc set covers free thought from the revolution through about the 1930’s.

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Posted: 18 December 2013 08:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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I believe there is a federal statute stating “there shall be no religious test for public office” which trumps any state or local law. These laws have been overthrown where ever they have been challenged. If memory serves me correctly, the statute was insisted on by Baptists, who were afraid of being discriminated against by (I think) Congregationalists.

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Posted: 19 December 2013 01:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Although it may be true that, especially in red neck states, an avowed atheist would never be elected even to dog catcher, there are plenty of positions that are not elected ones but which carry the requirement that the person take an oath that he believes in god—notaries, appointed governmeny positions, such as judges, government employment such as police and firefighters, licence holders, such as lawyers and doctors. I don’t know, may even barbers must do so to get a license. One of the biggest problems is that many states and local districts have decided that,belief in god is not a religion, so they keep on forcing people to swear belief in a god—or swear on a bible when taking an oath of office, no matter that there is a law against imposing a “religious test.”  It’s not only people who would run for election who are affected.

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Posted: 30 January 2014 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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As a someone who has done a bit of research around this topic, let me throw in my two cents:

A point of clarification- It was not until 1925 that lawmakers and judges “incorporated” the Bill of Rights onto the states. In other words, during the 19th century the Constitution only described what the federal government could or couldn’t do to citizens. Therefore states were free to have established religions, and some did, under the US Constitution. This was very problematic after the passage of the 14th amendment, but was not clarified until 1925. Today, we interpret the Bill of Rights as applying to state and local government as well, but that just wasn’t the case when the establishment and test clauses were added to most state constitutions.

As for the oath and test clause careful reading was applied to that… Oath to Constitution is required for State and Federal Offices, no test is allowable for federal office of employees.

Article 6: “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.”

Under the US was interpreted as federal, if they had wanted to end test clauses they would have included a several states clause like they had for the oath. It was a contentious point, and no one was willing to tell states to eliminate their (sometimes previously existing) test clauses and established religions. The Constitution at the time of Ratification did not claim to eliminate all test clauses or established religions, just federal ones- and in fact left some intact and some were included in newer state constitutions of the 19th century with out challenge. They did not “break the Constitution,” the Constitution changed around them.

As far as the bigger debate about the nature of American freedom of religion vs dominion-ism / “Christian Nationhood” I think this debate tends to be oversimplified. Surely the “Founding Fathers” were “mostly Deist types” and the Constitution stands out for how little it says about religion- and the Confederate Preamble would “fix” that a few years later- but to say somehow that means “the US is a Secular State” is also overreaching.  I am not trying to put words in anybodies mouth, but I have seen this debate in many forms.

1. No, America was not founded as a Christian Nation in any Theocratic sense.
2. It (The federal Constitution) was founded to try to create freedom of religion, and I think also freedom from religion, but that point is more difficult to pin down.
3. The Constitution is but one battle line in this culture war, and marks merely a starting point for the evolution of this debate. There was a significant backlash against the Constitution as “Godless” and many state legislatures enacted test clauses in new state constitutions to remedy what they saw as a defect. As mentioned, the South in particular revolted against this and railed against it, culminating in its CSA constitution, here is its preamble:

“We, the people of the Confederate States, each state acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity — invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God — do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America.”

The David Bartons are terribly wrong (historically) when they argue the US was created as a Christian Nation, but I think it is also a mistake to look at the Constitution and declare clear victory for freedom of religion and especially not for secularism- that is a battle that continued in the early national period, the Civil War, Reconstruction, 1920s, 1950s, and today- Our institutions have evolved and continue to evolve. The Constitution is not the only battle line, it was the first of many. In fact, despite this clear set back, in many ways it seems that the dominionists are more in control now than they were in 1789.

I guess what I am trying to say is do not rest too comfortably in your knowledge that the founding fathers wanted x or y… The reality is no presidential candidate dares to run as an atheist. There may be no test clause in the Constitution, but ask your self if its not a defacto requirement.

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Posted: 30 January 2014 06:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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FPaNV - 30 January 2014 12:05 PM

There may be no test clause in the Constitution, but ask your self if its not a defacto requirement.

Well of course we know it is a de facto requirement: that’s what we’re whining complaining about.  cheese

One of my favorite tactics is to quote the Treaty of Tripoli and watch Christians try to squirm out of something so plainly evident.

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Posted: 30 January 2014 07:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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A point of clarification- It was not until 1925 that lawmakers and judges “incorporated” the Bill of Rights onto the states. In other words, during the 19th century the Constitution only described what the federal government could or couldn’t do to citizens. Therefore states were free to have established religions, and some did, under the US Constitution. This was very problematic after the passage of the 14th amendment, but was not clarified until 1925. Today, we interpret the Bill of Rights as applying to state and local government as well, but that just wasn’t the case when the establishment and test clauses were added to most state constitutions.

You’re spot on FPaNV. You’re referring to the Incorporation Doctrine and we also have Hugo Black to thank for moving forward on the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in State legislation. You could call it an evolution of separation of church and state. People often forget that SCOTUS is a court of appeals and until a case comes before it the Court can’t initiate legislation, only determine it’s constitutionality. Also remember that the right to vote was denied to women and non property owners, not to mention minorities until the 20th Century. Native Americans were the last to receive the franchise. My point is that as the culture changed and pressure was put on the legislators to end discrimination (e.g. the 14th and 15th Amendments) plus the various cases brought before the Court, the original document was incorporated to include all citizens within the various States and the religious qualifications became anachronistic. There are several states however that still maintain them in an altered or abreviated form and these are being actively challenged in the courts today. It remains to be seen how SCOTUS will deal with them. As to revisionists who tout that the Founding Fathers attempted to establish a “xtian nation” there is absolutely no proof, at least written that supports that claim much as Barton and his ilk have attempted to show in their revisionist books. Most of what I’ve read is cherrypicked and cleverly altered. Chris Roda exposes much of that word wrangling in her book Liars for Jesus. On the flip side I agree with you that, with the exception of Paine, most “founding Fathers” were either Diests or believers who today would be considered mainstream, not evangelical nor fundamentalist. Many of them wrote their private thoughts concerning religion including Madison who actually outlined the Constitution. It remains to be seen today if the cultural trend away from religion will open the doors for an atheist president but hey, we now have an African-American in the WH and who knows that the next occupant will be a (dare I say it?) woman. Personally I’d like to see an atheist Native-American female. Wouldn’t that make George Washington drop his wooden teeth?


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Posted: 31 January 2014 01:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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FinallyDecided - 10 December 2013 09:52 AM

I am a Marylander and surprised to see it included on that list as MD is highly liberal; so while this may still be something on the books, I don’t think it is at all followed, to my knowledge.


Maryland may need someone to test it by running for office and refusing to declare his or her faith in god by oath or by signing a document. 

Herb Silverman did this in South Carolina and was barred from even getting a Notary’s license, though he won his case in the end.

http://WWW.Herbsilverman.com

Lois

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