Atheists are fighting a law that is still shockingly on the books in seven states.
Despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1961, saying states may not maintain a “religious test” for holding public office, seven states still have laws on the books banning atheists and non-believers from serving.
If you’re an atheist living in Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Texas, you’re technically not allowed to hold public office. Those states have articles in their constitutions requiring public officials to believe in God—in fact, in Maryland, even jurors and witnesses are technically required to believe in God—and now nonbelievers are trying to get rid of such rules, even though they are rarely invoked. “If it was on the books that Jews couldn’t hold public office, or that African-Americans or women couldn’t vote, that would be a no-brainer. You’d have politicians falling all over themselves to try to get it repealed,” the chairman of the Openly Secular coalition tells the New York Times. “Even if it was still unenforceable, it would still be disgraceful and be removed.”