I find it interesting that the NC Constitution (Article 6, Section 8) disqualifies from office "...any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God".  This and similar constitutional provisions in various states were "nullified" in 1961 by the U.S. Supreme Court.  As such, NC has never been allowed to enforce it.  However, despite ample opportunities to remove this "disqualification," NC has refused (the NC constitution was revised numerous times in the 1960s and 1970s, but article 6, section 8 remained untouched).  In order to amend the constitution, NC voters must approve it, and a constitutional amendment can only go to the voters if 60% of the NC legislatures agree to it.  I am wondering if we, as a united group of NC citizens, are interested in creating a movement to repeal Article 6, section 8. If we can find a friendly "soul" :-)  in the NC legislature to support our cause, it would be interesting to see our elected officials go on record as supporting or not this repeal.  I think it would make for interesting discussion around the state.  Thoughts?

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The Preamble of the NC State Constitution states:

"We, the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for the preservation of the American Union and the existence of our civil, political and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those blessings to us and our posterity, do, for the more certain security thereof and for the better government of this State, ordain and establish this Constitution."
[emphasis added]

I'd like to have this changed as well.
Hi Tom, Great point ... absolutely, the preamble should be amended as well. Toni raised an interested question below as to whether the Preamble can be amended the same way as Ar. 6, Sec. 8. As a member of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, I'll contact them to see if they've challenged similar constitutional provisions in other states and see if they have any advice for us. I encourage all of us to inquire to various legal avenues to get an battle plan ... the more the better. Best, Tony
Hey Tony (and all),

A couple things for folks to chew on....both good news, of sorts.

First, Elon University (where I teach) has a very extensive January term studies abroad program, and one of our classes recently traveled to South Africa where they had the rare experience of having a meal with Archbishop Desmond Tutu (he spoke at Elon a couple years ago). I was told that at the blessing before the meal he made a point of welcoming people from all faiths and as well non-believers. He must have taken a page from Obama's inauguration speech!

Second, in the next (starting Feb 22) Elon Poll of NC residents there will be several questions about religion including a couple that drill down to the Ar 6 Sec 8 topic we're discussing. I'll have access to the data as it is collected and will blog about it.


While the preamble is appalling Article 6, Section 8 would be the easier battle. Anyone know of a notary that has been denied license because of this? I remember swearing on a bible when I was a notary 10 years ago (in my apathetic days). I've considered becoming one again JUST to see what would happen. That would be a good start for a challenge.
In North Carolina you actually don't sign anything declaring religious beliefs of an kind. You just take class, send in the papers with the fee and your a notary. I've done it before.
National Guard membership doesn't count as a public office.
In the long run it doesn't matter if it's repealed because the US Supreme Court case Torcaso v Watkins has ruled that clauses such as this one (even if in the State's Constitution) are unenforceable because they violate the rights of citizens based on the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Hi Joe, yes, you are right (I also mentioned this in my opening discussion). However, the fact that NC still includes this in the constitution (along with the overtly religious Preamble favoring theism over non-theism) encourages bigotry and discrimination (supported by the state) against Atheists. Numerous times when people find out that I am an Atheist, one of the first things they draw upon when they say that Atheists are not good Americans or that Atheists are not patriotic is the government's stance. For example, the inclusion of "In God We Trust" on money and on buildings; and in the case of NC and several other states, the state constitution. In Asheville, an Atheist was recently elected to a local office (although voters at the time did not know he was an Atheist). Once people found out, he has been harassed, threatened with a recall and one many is threatening to take him to court ... why? because the NC constitution says he shouldn't be allowed to hold office. Although they all know the US Supreme Court will not allow NC to enforce this, it still provides support for their bigotry. Another advantage of trying to change the NC constitution is to start a statewide discussion on this issue and to get people to go on record as either accepting Atheists fully as members of society or not. After all, if the NC constitution said that Jews or Catholics could not hold office (and like for Atheists, this would be unenforceable) do you think for a second that Jews or Catholics would not want this changed in the constitution or that the people of NC would not change it? Of course they would. Why should we be any different? The NC legislature has amended the constitution dozens of time since the Supreme Court's ruling in 1961; this includes amending article 6, section 8 in the 1970s and although they could have easily taken the "no Atheist allowed" provision out, they intentionally left it in there to send a "message". If amending the constitution on this matter ever does come up for a vote, it would definitely create a conversation I want to have with my fellow citizens of the great state of North Carolina!
Let's be honest, the majority of the people in this state would vote to keep it since amendments in this state have to get the approval of the voters. The church's would immediately campaign to get their congregations to vote know on the amendments (assuming they don't stop it in the General Assembly). The only other way would be to rewrite the constitution, which is unlikely. If you want to start a campaign to remove it, I'd definitely support it.
oops know = no
I would vote to remove this part of the constitution. However, I don't think we'd ever find 60% of NC voters to do so. I think that politicians know this. I think that most politicians, even ones truly sympathetic to this cause, would not publicly try to change it for fear of backlash from the citizens.

Unfortunately, some people believe it is good and are still trying to enforce it:

On the upside, at least an out atheist was elected here!
I can't fathom the folks in my corner of NC voting to ammend. Atheists here are rare as hens teeth.


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