Does your state constitution discriminate against the godless?

It does if you live in Arkansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, or South Carolina.

Check this out.

I am outraged by this and would like to see a major coordinated effort by all secular humanist and atheist organizations to overturn these clauses from those state constitutions.

I'm not a legal expert but it seems to me that they violate the principle of equal protection. Can any lawyers out there comment on this?

Tags: constitution, discrimination, equal, law, protection

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It's pretty sickening and blatantly discriminatory. I'm no lawyer, but I'd guess these laws exist either because they haven't been challenged or they've been found not to be in violation of the first amendment.
Ohio has ramblings about God in their state constitution also. It makes me sick!
I did a bit of research and learned that the Supreme Court has ruled, in Torcaso v. Watkins that states cannot enforce these clauses.

Justice Hugo Black wrote ..."We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person "to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion." Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs."

That raises the question of why those laws are still on the books.
I think that being an Atheist, regardless of a state's constitution, would have less of a chance of gaining office just because of majority verdict. America is ready for a Black president but an Atheist? Unlikely. However, they fact that they felt it necessary to make this a law? Disgusting.

Most of them say "Supreme being" but that one that says "Christian" applies not only to Atheists but every worshiping religion that's not immediately labeled as such... which has been a subject of debate for Catholics and Mormons.
You're right about the current electability of atheists but I think that removing the offensive wording from state constitutions is an important step toward a change in the status quo. Most people probably aren't aware of those clauses (I wasn't) and some consciousness-raising is needed.

However, IMO it would be a mistake to try (now) to remove every reference to god or a diety in those documents. Christians are, regretably, still a majority and would dig in their heels to resist that. But I believe that blatant discrimination against non-christians or non-believers stands a better chance of being removed. Such a move would probably be supported by many believers.

I was one who, frankly, thought that the USA could never elect a black or a woman president. Now, I am pleased to admit that more things are possible than I dared to dream. It wasn't that long ago that an openly gay candidate was unthinkable. Today, there are many gay elected officials. When I was young, atheists were considered kooks and cranks. Today, they include respected scientists, entertainers, and best-selling authors and have an increasingly positive image.

Things can change for the better if we work for it and use our legal system wisely.
The U.S. Constitution does not refer to a creator or god either directly or indirectly except for the "year of our lord" in the date. "Year of our Lord" is merely a figure of speech and is less a reference to god than a specification of the calendar being used.
I live in NC and knew about it's state consititution. These aren't "supposed" to be followed anymore, but lets be real. The bible belt isn't ready for atheists yet.

As a matter of fact, I removed my Darwin fish from the back of my truck this morning because of an interview I have today. This establishment caters to church groups along with others, you know what that means. It pisses me off, but what can I do? I have to work.



Sometimes I dispise living the Christland, with it's hypocritical, bigoted, backward, superstitious ways. :(
Luckily I live in a secular country so we don't have these issues, the queen is nominally head of the church of England and has the title of defender of the faith with was granted by the pope to henry the eighth when he was cutting the heads of his wifes for some reason or other.I don't really know why The US of A isn't secular perhaps someone can enlighten me.
Chritainity is a state religion in england but I suspect that there would be rioting in the streets if the state tried to pass laws similar to the American ones.
Karl
The US national constitution, which supercedes all other laws, is secular but the (50) states have constitutions that were generally written long ago and frequently mention god or "the creator". For the most part, these god references are contained in a preamble and simply thank the sky daddy for His blessings, etc., and don't really have any legal effect. In a few states though, believers have managed to slip in overtly discriminatory clauses prohibiting non-believers from holding positions in state government, testifying in court, etc. - good examples of when democracy is like two wolves and one lamb voting on what to have for dinner.

The federal constitution prohibits these "religious tests" and the supreme court has invalidated them but the process of amending a state constitution can be difficult, slow, and expensive and so they remain on the books. I suspect that the invalid clauses are still being used in a few places to exclude atheists. If they don't know the law or can't afford to fight back, they're just out of luck. The level of outrage over this has (until now, I hope) has been too low to inspire a movement for change.
It looks like the Pennsylvania one is actually protecting believers. It's saying that nobody who believes in God can be kept from public office because of his/her belief. It doesn't say anything about HAVING to believe.
I'm glad you pointed that out. I don't have a problem with that one.
We are discriminated by the society in Pakistan. As for as state is concerned we have total freedom.
Because state is almost non exisitant here instead there is a bunch of looters in the name of state who have nothying to do with the people. We manage our lives ourselves.

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