Bans on Atheists in Public Office

Cluster for the Study of Religious Violence

More than 50 years after the United States Supreme Court ruled that states could not use a “religious test” for officials, bans on atheists serving in public office remain in many states.

According to the New York Times, “Maryland and six other states still have articles in their constitutions saying people who do not believe in God are not eligible to hold public office. Maryland’s Constitution still says belief in God is a requirement even for jurors and witnesses.”

It may seem surprising that such blatant discrimination based on religious beliefs and positions could remain in key legal documents in the United States. Indeed, Article VI of The Constitution of the United States of a provision that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” This statement was upheld in the most relevant US Supreme Court case, the 1961…

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