Commonwealth of the Bible

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The Economist’s Democracy in America blog reminds us that Pennsylvania is one of 8 states that officially bans atheists from holding public office.

Here’s the relevant language courtesy of Religious Tolerance.org

Pennsylvania a Declaration of Rights: Article 1, Section 4:
“No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth.”

Comments: This seems to imply that a person who denied the existence of all Gods or who denied the existence of heaven (or equivalent) or who denied the existence of hell (or equivalent) had no protection from being held ineligible to hold office or be a member of the PA civil service because of their religious beliefs.

As DFA points out, non-believers are extremely unpopular so it’s pretty impossible to imagine this ever getting overturned in the legislature. This is exactly the kind of situation where you need an Activist Judge to step in and restore justice when the political system can’t deliver.

This entry was posted in Elections, Religion.

6 Responses to Commonwealth of the Bible

  1. Carrie Mayer says:

    where does it say it officially ban atheists from public office?

    questionable maybe. it officially protects people do believe in a god from being denied right to serve in office. but it does not ban atheists. that's inserting a clear line where there is none.

    • jongeeting says:

      Why's it even in there in the first place? The point seems to be to explicitly deny equal rights to candidates or civil service applicants who are non-believers. What other function could it possibly serve?

      • Carrie Mayer says:

        the function is open for debate, but the statement is to allow no distinction between religions. it's to allow Catholics…to allow Protestants…Mormons..Jewish..Muslim, even, from being barred from office. I'm not sure how old this law is, specifically this passage. plus there is a federal law that states that a contest of religious beliefs is not a prereq' for holding office.

        please show me a law that specifically bans atheists from office.

        transgender people are banned from America, they just aren't protected under a hate crimes bill.

        • jongeeting says:

          No distinction between religions, but a huge distinction between the rights of those who believe in a Deity and those who do not.

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