Institute on the Constitution Director of Operations Jake MacAulay today argued against the Constitution on Matt Barber’s Barbwire website.
MacAulay noted that seven states still have requirements that office holders in those states believe in a god.
There are seven states including Maryland with language in their constitutions that prohibits people who do not believe in God from holding public office.And now, according to a recent New York Times article by Laurie Goodstein, a coalition of nonbelievers including atheists, agnostics, humanists and freethinkers, led and primarily funded by atheist Todd Stiefel, says it is time to get rid of these atheist bans because they are discriminatory, offensive and unconstitutional.
Besides Maryland, the other six states with language in their constitutions that prohibit people who do not believe in God from holding public office are Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
Such bans were declared unconstitutional by Torcaso v. Watkins in 1961.
Torcaso v. Watkins
Argued April 24, 1961
Decided June 19, 1961
367 U.S. 488
APPEAL FOM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND
Appellant was appointed by the Governor of Maryland to the office of Notary Public, but he was denied a commission because he would not declare his belief in God, as required by the Maryland Constitution. Claiming that this requirement violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, he sued in a state court to compel issuance of his commission, but relief was denied. The State Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the state constitutional provision is self-executing, without need for implementing legislation, and requires declaration of a belief in God as a qualification for office. Held: This Maryland test for public office cannot be enforced against appellant, because it unconstitutionally invades his freedom of belief and religion guaranteed by the First Amendment and protected by the Fourteenth Amendment from infringement by the States. Pp. 367 U. S. 489-496.
A South Carolina case addressed that state’s religious test by specifically referring to Article VI of the Constitution:
Silverman v. Campbell, 326 S.C. 208, 486 S.E.2d 1 (1997): In this case, the South Carolina Supreme Court held Article VI, section 2 (“No person who denies the existence of the Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution) and Article XVII, section 4 (“No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution) of the South Carolina Constitution violated the First Amendment and the Religious Test of the United States Constitution by barring persons who denied the existence of a “Supreme Being” from holding office. At that time, only two states, North Carolina and South Carolina, required a religious test for public office. Full Case Materials
It is clear the framers did not intend for religion to be a test because the Constitution forbids such tests. From Article VI, paragraph three of the Constitution:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
In light of the Constitution’s clear statement here, consider this absurd statement from MacAulay:
So this constitutional requirement that an office holder must believe in God is a logical and consistent protection against those who might drive our constitutional republic in a bad direction.
This isn’t about discrimination or bigotry. It’s about ensuring that those holding office in America are committed to the true, lawful, American philosophy of government.
Apparently, the Constitution got it wrong, according to the Institute on the Constitution’s Director of Operations. In his argument in favor of a religious test, he seems oblivious to the fact that the Constitution forbids such a test. In essence, MacAulay argues that the federal Constitution is wrong and does not represent the “true, lawful, American philosophy of government.”
This and other clear problems are why no school child should be confused and misled by the IOTC’s teaching on the Constitution via their inaccurately named American Clubs. That Matt Barber, who works at the Liberty University law school, posted this mess is another reason why no student should attend Liberty University’s School of Law.