The Common Good

Banning Atheists from Public Office

A fascinating visual from the wonderful blog ‘I Love Charts’ caught some attention on the inter-webs yesterday, highlighting a little known fact from the statute books of some of the nation’s states:

There are seven states in the union which ban atheists from holding public office.

And by association, ban atheists from running for public office, unless a ‘Road To Damascus’ moment fortuitously occurs on the campaign trail.

The constitutions of Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas all have provisions that require public office holders to adhere to a religious faith.

In Tennessee for example,

"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."

In Arkansas, atheism also appears to deny you the ability to testify in court:

"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." 

There’s probably an important lesson to learn from this revelation:

People looking to run for office should make sure they know their state’s constitution very well before they inadvertently break the law!