When I sat next to Wafa Sultan at the dinner weekend before last, she asked me if there were any penalties for being an atheist in the US, and I told her there were two states that ban atheists from running for office. She was amazed and incredulous, and I assured her it was true; Tennessee and I think Arkansas, I added.
But I was wrong. It’s not two, it’s seven.
[Update for clarification: these are all articles of state constitutions, and (I'm told) (by Matt Dillahunty) they could never be enforced. I kind of assumed that anyway, but it's better to spell it out.]
Matthew Bulger of American Humanists lists them.
Arkansas, Article 19, Section 1: No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.
Maryland, Article 37: That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.
Mississippi, Article 14, Section 265: No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.
North Carolina, Article 6, Section 8 The following persons shall be disqualified for office: Any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.
South Carolina, Article 17, Section 4: No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.
Tennessee, Article 9, 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.
Texas, Article 1, Section 4: 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.
I love the Maryland one – no religious test except for belief in the existence of God. Oh is that all!
Via Paul Fidalgo.