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No atheists for office in North Carolina?

December 11, 2009 - Nikki Younk
Do you have to believe in God in order to hold a political office?

According to some people in North Carolina, you must, or you’re violating the state constitution. A recent Associated Press article tells of Asheville, N.C. city councilman Cecil Bothwell, an atheist, and his detractors. They point out that North Carolina’s constitution contains a statement, from 1868, that disqualifies candidates ‘‘who shall deny the being of Almighty God.’’

However, the AP article adds that the U.S. Constitution nullifies the N.C. requirement through its supremacy clause and that the Supreme Court “prohibits states from requiring any kind of religious test to serve in office.”

It looks like the antiquated clause can’t be enforced. I certainly hope that’s the case.

We’re lucky to live in a country that allows religious freedom. It’s right there in the first amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or *prohibiting the free exercise thereof*...” This freedom should also extend to those who choose to follow no religion. Why should some of us be allowed to exercise our right, while others are persecuted for exercising theirs?

And really, what’s the threat of an atheist in the first place? There are probably as many corrupt, immoral “believers” as there are corrupt, immoral “non-believers.” As long as a person treats others with respect, I don’t care what he or she believes.


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