I had fun today! I made plans to go down to the courthouse, pay the fee, sign the form and get a notary commission. In Georgia it's astonishingly easy to become a notary. Two people from your county affirm you're an upstanding citizen. You take that and a photo ID to the clerks office of your county, pay $30, take an oath, and congrats you're a notary!
My plan was to scratch out the 'so help me God' portion of the oath and see what happens. Here's the outline version of what happened:
Clerk - 'you can't cross that out'
Me - yes I can. I don't believe in God.
Clerk - no you can't. that's the oath
Me - yes I can
Clerk - no, I need to get you another paper
Me - I'm crossing it out
Clerk - It doesn't matter if you believe. You don't have to believe. That's the oath. You have to sign it.
Me - So I can't be a notary unless I sign
Clerk - You have to sign the oath
Me - I request a secular alternative
Clerk - Let me talk to someone
goes to the back and gets someone esle
Clerk2- I've called the (clerk/mgr) and waiting for her to call or come back to find out if we can do that. Can you come back later?
Me- I'll wait
Clerk2 - Well if she calls after one, we'll both be gone for lunch
Me- So if we don't hear by one I'll have to wait until 2.
Clerk2- I'll try her again.
Me- I'll wait
Clerk2- The lobby is fine
- Clerk 1 handed me my paperwork and money back
- I go outside the office and call my American Atheists connection.
- He says if they won't let me become a notary today, I should explain this isn't over and that I'll come back with a witness next time. He and I would work out a time to come back together with a camera.
- Second lady comes out and says I can come back now
- I'm allowed to cross out 'so help me God', and initial it
- We continue
- Poof! notary
Damn. I was excited!
I'm disappointed it didn't explode.
It was fun, though.
Apply for the notary in your state!! In some states it's a long, expensive process, but in many (like GA) it takes more to obtain a library card.
Give it a shot! What's to lose, right? Get in touch with a local atheist/freethought/whatever group and give them the heads up. They may have experience in this already and can likely help you if things feel like they're getting out of control.