Why it matters that 7 states still have bans on atheists holding office

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They are an annoyance and an embarrassment to the states in question, but they are completely unenforceable. I held public office in NC (where notary publics are considered a public office) in spite of the state law against atheists. If they ever tried to enforce any of those laws, they would be struck down, so instead they leave them on the books just as a fuck you to us.


I’ve often stated here at this sub that these provisions are insignificant, being unquestionably unconstitutional, void, and unenforceable. This article is the best counterargument to my point that I’ve ever read. It agrees on the unenforceability, but disagrees about the significance. It’s quite good and the best thing that I’ve seen in that it focuses on and provides illustrations of two points: * Even though the provisions are unenforceable, that doesn’t mean that people don’t *try* to enforce them. Those attempts are necessarily quickly rejected by the courts, but that’s still a problem in terms of churning and trouble and expense. And even when they aren’t actually used to take action, they can provide a source for an ongoing but false claim, in this Trumpian/QAnon truth-is-irrelevant world, of illegitimacy on the part of an atheist officeholder. * Probably worse, they’re a continuing symbol of anti-atheist prejudice which, as the author states, is so alive and well that perhaps 19% of the American public are atheists but are unwilling to admit it publicly. (He says that there is some reason to believe that 25% of the public are actually nonbelievers in God, but only 6% are willing to admit it publicly while 19% remain closeted.) One thing that it does not address is, with anti-atheist prejudice remaining so strong, just how those provisions can be removed. Since they’re typically in the state constitutions, it requires a constitutional amendment to remove them and that generally gets started by a bill being passed in the state legislature and signed by the governor to start that process and get it on the ballot. And *that* requires a legislator and a legislator and a governor who are willing to be accused of supporting atheism. See the two bullet points above for just how that is likely to play out. And politicians being politicians, what political benefit is that likely to bring them that outweighs the political cost in the current political climate?


So much for freedom of religion.


Which states? Suspect Florida is on the list.


TLDR: Tennessee, NC, SC and 4 others that the author failed to name (unless I missed them)