Fortney Hillman "Pete" Stark, Jr
. (born November 11, 1931) is an American politician from the state of
California. A Democrat, he has been a member of the U.S. House of
Representatives since 1973 (37 years), currently representing
California's 13th congressional district in southwestern Alameda
County. Currently he is the sixth most senior Representative as well as
8th most senior member of Congress.
AND IS AN ATHEIST.United States ConstitutionArticle VI
All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the
adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United
States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.
This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be
made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be
made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme
law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby,
anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members
of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial
officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be
bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
Why is this part of the Constitution?
Why did the Founding Father’s have this as part of the Constitution?
The answer is very simple:
George Santayan’s famous quote, "Those who cannot remember the past are
condemned to repeat it,” was published in 1905.* The Founding Fathers
were well ahead of their time but they knew their history.
Sadly many today do not wish to study history or learn from it’s
lessons. These are the lessons of mankind. Our successes,
achievements, follies and failures. The good, the bad and yes, the ugly.
At first the United States was organized as a Confederation. The
result was a weak Federal government. While there were some productive
measures taken, overall the “Confederation” form of government was not
working. A stronger form of government was needed by the young
The country needed a government that could guarantee stability. “On the
same sheet of music.“ Some issues the country was facing were: order,
property rights, lack of economic stability, state taxes and problems
with foreign trade.
Then there was Shays’ Rebellion. The country was for the lack of a
better term, in a “recession.” In New England it was worse. High
prices, high taxes and veterans who’d never been paid. Many feared
debtors prison, losing all they had and forced to become tenant farmers.
In short, a new form of Government was needed. This lead to the
Continental Congress convening and writing the Constitution completed
in September 1787. By July 1788 New Hampshire ratified the US
Constitution which created the new government and the scheduling of an
election. In March 1789 the 1st Congress was held and Washington was
inaugurated that April.
Ok. So what does this have to do with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the Founding Father’s were closer
historically to the rule of countries by Kings and Queens. Where the
Pope or a religious leader could bring a country to its knees by a
papal decree. Or where wars could be started for no other reason then
for personal glory of the crown.
The Founding Father’s knew and understood that they had the ability to
free themselves and the people of the United States from such tyranny.
They were also well aware of the war between Catholics and Protestants.
And the uses and abuses of Religious Tests that had been applied in England and other countries.
Remember the story of the Pilgrims? Why they left England and
eventually settled in America? For Religious Freedom. They were
escaping from a national religion, the Church of England.
And then there is the subject of Churches subjecting people to taxes.
So the Founding Father’s made sure that no religion or church enjoyed
any advantages or disadvantages because of an established “National”
religion. Religion had no relevance in a person’s citizenship, the
right to vote or hold office and therefore no political privilege or
This is potent stuff. This is the stuff that makes religions and its
leaders back off. The “teeth” that religion and religious leaders had
were pulled out. In other words, religion could not be used against
the United States as a weapon or a tool for extortion or blackmail.
in the 1600’s and the 1700’s in England, they had “Religious Tests” to
exclude anyone who wasn’t a member of the Church of England from
holding office. In other words if you were Catholic, nonconforming
Protestants or Jewish, you were not going to hold office.
Now, just how long do you think it would take for someone like Mike
Huckabee or Mit Romney to start screaming bloody murder if they had to
take such an oath? Or were denied office? Or not even allowed to run
for an office? These are two American politicians who are very
religious and let you know they are. They attempted to run for
President representing the Republican Party in the 2008 elections but
lost to John McCain. McCain lost to Obama.
There are six states: Maryland,
Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas that have laws
on their books that essentially do no allow atheists to hold office.
Nice try guys.
Constitution of the United States says there isn’t a religious test.
And, as we all know from our government classes, the US Constitution cannot be superseded by a State’s Constitution.
And the icing on the cake is the case of, Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S.
488 (1961) was a United States Supreme Court case in which the court
reaffirmed that the US Constitution prohibits States and the Federal
Government from requiring any kind of religious test for public office.
So the next time some yahoo whose been listening too much to “talk
radio” or some talking head on “Fox,” just remember that the Founding
Father’s had their heads on straight. They foresaw that one day, some
religious half wit would try to use religion to force their way of life
on you and they created the “No Religious Test” clause of Article VI.
*George Santayana, The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress:
Reason in Common Sense, Chapter XII, "Flux and Constancy in Human