Category: 

Are Atheists Permitted to Hold Public Office in Every U.S. State?

Seven U.S. states -- Maryland, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas -- have clauses in their state constitutions that prohibit people who do not believe in God from holding public office. In various legal challenges, state and federal courts have ruled that there can be no religious test for holding public office and that the practice is unconstitutional and discriminatory, but none of the states has demonstrated the political will to remove those lines from their state constitutions.

It says so in the Constitution:

  • In 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of Roy Torcaso, who refused to say that he believed in God in order to serve as a notary public in Maryland, and ruled in his favor.

  • State bans have rarely been invoked since 1992, when Herb Silverman was denied a position as a notary public in South Carolina. He prevailed in a 1997 decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

  • Article VI, paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution states that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Follow wiseGEEK:
  twitter

More Info: The New York Times

Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email

Free Widgets for your Site/Blog

In the 1960s, 13 women completed the same physical exams required of male astronauts in a private testing program.  more...
 
August 23 ,  1927 :  American anarchists, Vanzetti and Sacco were executed for murder.  more...