Could the United States ever have an atheist President? Religious test provisions for political offices hearken back to the days of the American Revolution, and President George Washington’s first official act was to make “fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe.” But many atheists believe that these religious tests amount to discrimination and are trying to change the laws so an atheist can become a politician or even the President of the United States.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, Patton Oswalt says atheists like Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher are the Westboro Baptist Church of atheism.
According to the polls, Americans would rather have another Bill Clinton or a gay president rather than having an atheist president.
“More than half of Americans would not support an atheist president. The survey found of Americans 53% would be less likely to support a candidate who does not believe in God, while 5% would be more likely to support such a candidate. While most Americans think the President should believe there is a God, more are now open to a gay or lesbian president.”
A group calling itself Openly Secular is spearheading the atheist effort to change U.S. law. According to Todd Stiefel, chairman of the organization, the laws are demeaning.
“They basically tell people that they’re second-class citizens in their state,” Stiefel said. “These are right there in the laws for everybody to read that our government doesn’t like you.”
At one point in time, although the U.S. Federal government has never established an official religion, many of the American states had official state religions based upon specific Christian denominations. A legacy of this past remains, and Tennessee’s state constitution says that, “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.”
Hedy Weinberg, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, says this particular line in the state constitution is old and should be removed.
“Their presence in the constitution is troubling because it is a symbolic form of discrimination,” Weinberg said.
The state constitutions of Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas also bar atheists from certain roles within the government, including holding public office or serving on a jury. The U.S. Founding Fathers and others who formed the basis for the American government also wanted to ensure people were truthful by having them swear on the Bible.
“We need to be treated fairly just like anyone else,” Stiefel said, according to the Tennessean. “If you’re a student or a young adult reading your state constitution for the first time, there’s no asterisk in there saying this is unconstitutional, it just says you’re not allowed to hold public office.”
The 1961 U.S. Supreme Court decision Torcaso v. Watkins ruled that the Constitution prohibits a religious test for holding public office. There are also existing conflicts in the Tennessee law since the state’s constitution also says a religious test cannot be required.
“That no political or religious test, other than an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and of this state, shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this state.”
Do you Americans will ever vote in an atheist president of the United States?