No Test of Faith Required. Except a Belief in God.

I got this straight from Reddit, but I checked them all myself and they’re legit.  I always keep in mind with things like this that there are all sorts of archaic laws in the books, but considering some of the states they’re in, I strongly suspect that they’re not going to go away anytime soon unless they manage to hit the Supreme Court … and even then, it might be a while.

So behold!  The list of states where atheists are not allowed to hold public office!

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.”

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.”

Mississippi (Article 14, Sec. 265):

  • “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.”

South Carolina (Article 6, Sec. 2):

  • “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.”

Tennessee (Article 9, Sec. 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, Sec. 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.”

In addition, someone in the thread pointed out that in 1961, Maryland notary public Ray Torcaso had his appointment revoked when he refused to make any statement of faith.  He eventually took the case to the supreme court and won on the basis that this kind of law violates the 1st and 14th Amendments.  So there’s precedent, at least.

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This entry was posted in Freedom from Religion, Religion and Public Life, Society Marches On and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to No Test of Faith Required. Except a Belief in God.

  1. davidjbillo says:

    I wonder why Torcaso would have had to appeal to the 1st and 14th amendments, when the prohibition against any “test of faith” is in the original Constitution. Am I missing something?

    • Below is what I got (admittedly) from Wikipedia but it provides a decent explanation:

      The Court did not base its holding on the no religious test clause of Article VI. In Footnote 1 of the opinion Justice Black wrote:

      Appellant also claimed that the State’s test oath requirement violates the provision of Art. VI of the Federal Constitution that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Because we are reversing the judgment on other grounds, we find it unnecessary to consider appellant’s contention that this provision applies to state as well as federal offices.

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