Any American can run for political office if he/she has enough money, a basic knowledge of politics, a fair education and a talent for speaking in public. You can be gay/lesbian, black, oriental or even physically disabled. However, you must have religion and a Christian one at that. I don't think a Muslim is acceptable unless he/she is a bonafide peaceful Muslim and has spoken out against terrorists.

You can be all these things, except being an atheist. Public distrust of non-believers is not the only reason atheists very seldom run for office. Running for a seat in state legislatures as an atheist is actually prohibited in some states. It is illegal according to the state constitutions of Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Maryland, and Mississippi.

It will change eventually. It will change soon.

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I know what you are saying here. My 84 year old aunt says Obama is a Muslim and they all gather on the White House lawn to have secret meetings on Sunday. Do Muslims meet on Sunday? If her belief was true it wouldn't be "secret" very long. You would think some reporter would catch on and bring this thing forward to to public. Apparently my aunt is one of those who thinks a Muslim cannot hold public office here. Her information is the proof that Obama will be asked to step down pretty soon now. America is a christian nation and we don't want any Muslims or atheists in office. Allah forbid! (Oops. Sorry Jebus.)

Now we will do a number that even American lawyers have done. Lolo Soetoro married an American woman and adopted her child. They lived in Idonesia and were a Muslim family. Young Barry Soetoro then had a half sister, and they all lived very well for a time. I'm sure Barry was encouraged to be Muslim and that he had a passport in his adopted name. This is where it gets tricky.

American attorneys insist that this is exactly why Obama cannot be president. It is very decieitful and a clever con job they say.  REALLY??

As an American citizen born in this country I could be adopted by the Von Ribbentrop family in Germany before I become of legal age. This is fine and binding, but once I become of legal age I can take back my birth name of Joe Smoe if I want to. It's all perfectly legal and perfectly honest.

What the hell is wrong with shit disturbers in America? Why do I care if a man might be a Muslim? I'd be more afraid of a Scientologist!

America is not a Christian nation and was NOT founded in Christian principles whatever the hell that means.

Most of us agree with that statement, but the theist fundies they think differently.

Stephen, you're absolutely correct. And, the next time you hear that garbage, you can respond with a simple history quiz. As I cited below, have the person read Article VI, paragraph 2, of the US Constitution. Pay special attention to that part about treaties. This is the original text that was in force (and still is) during the administrations of George Washington and John Adams.

Then, have them read Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli. That treaty was drafted in Washington's administration, unanimously ratified by the US Senate, and signed into law by John Adams. It clearly demonstrates the original intent of the founding fathers.

Finally, ask them why they are either 1) stupid enough to believe this Christian propaganda, or 2) knowing it's propaganda, continue to spread the Christian lie.

Of course you're right, Pat.  But I  hope you're prepared to have Thanksgiving dinner for one.  Unless your family is amazingly forgiving, that is.  Here, you're among friends.  Out there?  Not so much.

Jerry, as an 'old fart,' in my 60's, I'd rather be honest with my conscience than kow tow to the bibble thumpers - family included. Besides, they all know I'm an atheist, and I am completely unapologetic about it.

And, as to holidays, the lady I'm dating is reading Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris. Thanksgiving was dinner for two. And, I would add, I raised my children right. They, too, are non-believers.

There is currently an open atheist running for Congress. His name is James Woods, and he is running in the 5th Congressional District in Arizona.

Furthermore, while the states you cited do have provisions prohibiting non-believers from holding public office, they are dead letters. In 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court in Torcaso v. Watkins367 U.S. 488, ruled that this provision in the Maryland State Constitution was, in fact, unconstitutional. I don't think even Scalia or Alito would be foolish enough to allow these to be re-instated as valid law. Justice Thomas - who the hell knows. But not the others.

I'll admit, it's one of my favorite elements of the US Constitution, but I'm a bit surprised that no one cited Article VI, paragraph 3: religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

I note that particularly in that in cases where there may be conflict between the US Constitution and state constitutions, the US Constitution holds sway.  Pretty sure that's stipulated somewhere; I just don't know where exactly.

Loren, the provision where the US Constitution holds sway over State Constitutions is the preceding paragraph to the one you cited. Article VI, paragraph 2; also known as the Supremacy Clause. Interesting side note is paragraph 2 of Article VI made the Treaty of Tripoli the law of the land.

The reason I didn't cite paragraph 3 of Article VI is because the Torasco case did not rely on it. Torasco  relies on the 1st Amendment's freedom of religion clause.  SCOTUS, over time and in numerous decisions, has decided that the Bill of Rights applies to the States as a result of the passage of the 14th Amendment making federal due process and equal protection applicable to the individual States. Until the 14th Amendment, the Bill of Rights only applied to one's federal citizenship - not state citizenship.  Now, it applies to everyone. Well that, and a white flag at Appomattox Courthouse.

I can’t help reading this without being reminded of a set of observations Richard Dawkins made several years ago at a TED conference. The topic was on what he referred to as “militant atheism” and was truly quite interesting.
Anyway, in it he said:

however we define atheism, it's surely the kind of academic belief that a person is entitled to hold without being vilified as an unpatriotic, unelectable non-citizen. Nevertheless, it's an undeniable fact that to own up to being an atheist is tantamount to introducing yourself as Mr. Hitler or Miss Beelzebub. And that all stems from the perception of atheists as some kind of weird, way-out minority.

And later on:

So, we've reached a truly remarkable situation, a grotesque mismatch between the American intelligentsia and the American electorate. A philosophical opinion about the nature of the universe, which is held by the vast majority of top American scientists and probably the majority of the intelligentsia generally, is so abhorrent to the American electorate that no candidate for popular election dare affirm it in public. If I'm right, this means that high office in the greatest country in the world is barred to the very people best qualified to hold it -- the intelligentsia -- unless they are prepared to lie about their beliefs.

To put it bluntly, American political opportunities are heavily loaded against those who are simultaneously intelligent and honest.

As for your final line of “It will change eventually. It will change soon”, I would definitely agree with you that it will change but I’m less inclined to believe that it will occur with any haste. The South prides itself on it’s conservatism, in fact I’ve long felt The South’s brand of “conservatism” includes a form of conservative use of energy with regards to their frontal lobes. The South doesn’t want to contemplate change (as history has shown us all too often) and will fight it tooth and nail.

In less than a hundred years, people of the Western World will have no need for any religion. There will be housing and business structures where once stood churches. Further into the future there will be no mosques and maybe not even synagogues. Almost all people will become atheists and accept the fact that there is only one life with no false hope of something beyond. As time goes on, medical treatments and cures will advance to a point that, except for accidental deaths, people will stay alive so long that in the end, they will have had enough experiences and tire of life so that their death will become an acceptable end. They will accept it as one who has sat down to dinner, had a glass of wine, a fine appetizer, entree, dessert and coffee and has sat back completely full and satisfied. Satisfied that they have had enough. So much, in fact, they are tired and welcome that long sleep to which all must willingly consent.

From my book, Christianity and Other Superstitions by Stephen Gunn

Stephen, you must be prescient!  You say "There will be housing and business structures where once stood churches."  In England there is a series of pub/restaurants in former churches -- some of them spectacularly beautiful, but utterly secular.



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