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Religious laws and religious bigotry


Religious discrimination built into the
Constitutions of seven U.S. states

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When the U.S. Constitution and its first ten Amendments were written, the authors included guarantees of religious freedom among the federal civil service and officeholders. Article 6 of the Constitution states:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Inclusion of this clause was probably partly motivated by the large number of non-Christians among the authors of the Constitution, including many Deists.

However, many state constitutions -- when originally written -- required officeholders to believe in a God (or Gods or a Goddess, or Goddesses, or a God and a Goddess, or Gods and Goddesses). Most Constitutions didn't specify the number or sex.

After the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was proclaimed on 1868-JUL-21, its Article 6 became binding on individual states. The religious requirement clauses in state constitutions became null and void. The 14th Amendment stated:

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States."

Still, the clauses remain on the books in a few states AR, MD, MA, NC, PA, SC, TN & TX), and are occasionally dusted off in the media when someone wants to bash Atheists, Agnostics, etc.

Topics covered in this section:

bullet Quotation, Overview, and the Constitutions of Arkansas & Maryland
bullet Constitutions of Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee & Texas
bullet Can Atheists be excluded from "an office or public trust" in the U.S.? Results of two lawsuits

Related essays on this web site:

bullet Christian's beliefs about non-Christian religions.
bullet American adult's beliefs about non-Christian religions.
bullet Religious tolerance and intolerance.
bullet Recent news items exhibiting intolerance

Copyright 2000 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last update: 2009-DEC-15
Editor: B.A. Robinson.
This essay was partly based on a data file volunteered by visitors to this web site, for which we are very appreciative.

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