Discrimination of "non-religious persons"
The good news:
These phrases are historical relics, left over from
earlier times. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
supersedes any applicable statutory laws and sections of State's Constitutions.
It thus nullifies the effect of the below clauses.
What follows was copied from: www.religioustolerance.org
The Bill of Rights of the Texas Constitution
(Article I, Section 4) allows people to be excluded from holding office on
religious grounds. An official may be "excluded from holding
office" if she/he does not "acknowledge the existence of a
Supreme Being." This
form of religious intolerance is not limited to Texas. Six other states
( MA, MD, NC, PA, SC and TN) all have similar language included in their Bill
of Rights, Declaration of Rights, or in the body of their
In a few states whose constitutions include the text of the
oath of office, the candidate must swear an oath to God. Such an oath
would prevent ethical non-theists from taking office.
However, now that these Constitutions include discriminatory
and intolerant language, the states are probably stuck with it. The passages
will forever affirm that people who follow some minority religions were
considered unreliable second-class citizens of questionable morality -- at
least at the time that the state constitutions were written. They could only be
removed through constitutional change; this requires at least a majority vote of
the citizens of the state.
Religious discrimination in state constitutions:
We have highlighted the most important sentences in the
following articles and sections:
|Maryland's Bill of Rights: Article 36:|
" That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such
manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally entitled
to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore, no person ought by any
law to be molested in his person or estate, on account of his religious
persuasion, or profession, or for his religious practice, unless, under the
color of religion, he shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the
State, or shall infringe the laws of morality, or injure others in their
natural, civil or religious rights; nor ought any person to be compelled to
frequent, or maintain, or contribute, unless on contract, to maintain, any
place of worship, or any ministry; nor shall any person, otherwise
competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his
religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and
that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for
his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefore either in this world or in
the world to come."
Comments: In this state, a juror or witness might be considered
incompetent if they do not believe in the existence of God. Although humans
worship many Gods, the Article does not specify which one is being referred
to; presumably it is the Judeo-Christian deity.
|Massachusetts' Declaration of Rights:
"As the happiness of a people, and the
good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon
piety, religion and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffused
through a community, but by the institution of the public worship of
God, and of public instructions in piety, religion and morality:
Therefore, to promote their happiness and to secure the good order and
preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a
right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require,
and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the
several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or
religious societies, to make suitable provision, at their own
expense, for the institution of the public worship of God, and for
the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety,
religion and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not
be made voluntarily."
Comments: The constitution allows individual municipal bodies to tax
everyone (Anglicans, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Protestants,
non-believers, etc.) in order to maintain Protestant clergy.
"...every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves
peaceably, and as good subjects of the commonwealth, shall be equally
under the protection of the law: and no subordination of any one
sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law."
Comments: All Christian denominations are considered
of equal status, and are to be equally protected under the law.
Non-Christian groups appear to be left out in the cold.
|North Carolina's Constitution, Article 6 Sec. 8:|
" Disqualifications of office. The following persons shall be disqualified
for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God...."
Comments: "Almighty God" apparently refers to the
Judeo-Christian God. This Section would appear to disqualify anyone who is
not a Christian or Jew from holding office in the State.
|Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights: Article 1, Section
"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: Apparently anyone who denies the existence of God OR who
denies the existence of heaven and hell can be held ineligible to hold
office or be a member of the PA civil service.
|South Carolina's Constitution, Article 4 Section 2:|
" Person denying existence of Supreme Being not to hold office. No
person who denies the existence of the Supreme Being shall hold any office
under this Constitution."
Comments: "The Supreme Being" apparently refers
specifically to the Judeo-Christian God. This Section would appear to
disqualify anyone who is not a Christian or Jew from holding office in the
|South Dakota: We could not locate a copy of its
Constitution on the Internet.|
|Tennessee's Bill of Rights: Article 9:
|Section 4: " 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."|
|Section 2. " 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."|
Comments: Section 4 says that there is to be
no religious test. Section 2 is that there is a religious test. Nobody who
denies God or heaven or hell can hold office.
|Texas' Bill of Rights Section 4:|
" RELIGIOUS TESTS: No religious test shall ever be required as a
qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any
one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious
sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being."
Comments: As noted above, only theists can hold office civil servant