Arkansas, 5 Other States, Ban Atheists From Public Service. Seriously

Can it be constitutional to exclude from public service or service as a witness in a state court any and all atheists? Such a practice is so throw-back in nature, that it reminds one of the Spanish Inquisition. And yet, when I read the first part of this Washington Post piece, I was flabbergasted to find that Arkansas is one of a half-dozen states that does so. Read on and be flabbergasted (or not) yourself. But know in advance that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled illegal all such laws in 1961:

Hard to say what was more remarkable about the resolution that was read into the record and referred to committee Wednesday by a member of the 87th Arkansas General Assembly.

The resolution itself: HJR 1009: AMENDING THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO REPEAL THE PROHIBITION AGAINST AN ATHEIST HOLDING ANY OFFICE IN THE CIVIL DEPARTMENTS OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS OR TESTIFYING AS A WITNESS IN ANY COURT.

Or the fact that it was submitted by the Green Party's highest-ranking elected official in America, state Rep. Richard Carroll of North Little Rock, who was elected in November winning more than 80 percent of the vote in his district.

Arkansas is one of half a dozen states that still exclude non-believers from public office. Article 19 Section 1 of the 1874 Arkansas Constitution states that "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.

There is a special place in heaven for atheists who have to endure such nonsense. Yes, I'm kidding.

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By Bonnie Erbe
  • CBSNews

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