American state law and practice against atheism and atheists 1

This list comes from the International Humanist and Ethical Union’s Freedom of Thought 2012: A Global Report on Discrimination Against Humanists, Atheists and the Nonreligious, pages 69-71.

LAW

United States Law Arkansas constitution (Article 19, Section 1):

“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.”

United States Law Maryland constitution (Article 37): “That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God…”

United States Law Mississippi constitution (Article 14, Section 265): “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.”

United States Law North Carolina constitution (Article 6, Section 8): “The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

United States Law South Carolina constitution (Article 17, Section 4): “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.”

United States Law Tennessee constitution (Article 9, Section 2): “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.”

United States Law Texas constitution (Article 1, Section 4): “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall anyone be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”

United States Law In 1954, the Pledge of Allegiance was amended to add the phrase “under God,” so that it would read, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

United States Law In 1956, Congress adopted “In God We Trust” as the country’s official motto. This phrase is posted on U.S. money and in courthouses at every level of government.

United States Law A 2006 law in Kentucky requires the state Office of Homeland Security to post plaques acknowledging that “Almighty God” has been integral to keeping the state safe. The penalty for breaking this law is up to 12 months in prison.

United States Law Miami-Dade Commission successfully reinstated prayer before its meetings.

CASES

United States Case 2/?/07 Newton Correctional Facility in Iowa conducts a state-funded Biblical program.

United States Case 5/?/11 Prisoners at Berkeley County DetentionCenter in South Carolina were denied all reading materials except for the Christian Bible.

United States Case 9/?/07 Atheist soldier Jeremy Hall faced legal and professional threats after filing a lawsuit alleging retaliation for refusing to attend an
overtly-Christian Thanksgiving service and convening meetings of atheist and other nonreligious soldiers at Camp Speicher in Iraq.

United States Case 11/?/11 A Marine Corps unit at Camp Pendleton, California, conducted a mandatory event raising a Christian cross as a war memorial. Subsequently, other units conduct mandatory marches to it, many including mandatory, command-led Christian prayer.

United States Case 11/?/11 A mandatory suicide-prevention presentation at the US Air Force base in Lakenheath, England, included material from Pastor Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. The presentation lauded religiously-motivated living “as the most beneficial, because if you love God (in a majority of world religions), you’ll love man and yourself.” It also equated atheism and naturalism with life under the totalitarian Soviet Union and argued that “Faith is Foremost.”

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Posted under Atheism, Law, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, December 14, 2012

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  • liz

    Incredible that these requirements are still in state law. Although, considering the revivals of religion that prompted the insertion of “under God”, and “in God we trust”, they may have been purposely continued.
    The other cases sited, such as those in the military, seem like valid complaints – much more so than the complaining about Xmas trees. Yet so many Christians would look at these and say they are equally invalid.