Southern Religion

The N.C. silly season on office-holding atheists goes pandemic

When atheistic Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell took office without legal challenge or other untoward event, we thought the silly season had ended and with it talk of applying Article 6, section 8 of the North Carolina constitution (a bootless anachronism). It says:

The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.

Vain hope. The sensationalistic atheist-bashing virus which greeted Bothwell’s election went national and then international.

Now apparently pandemic, the infection has boomeranged back to North Carolina, afflicting N.C. Christian Action League chief Mark Creech.

As Tony Cartledge explains:

Relying heavily on David Barton’s The Myth of Separation, which argues against church-state separation, Creech holds that “the founders” intended only that there should be no denominational test (Anglican, Presbyterian, etc.), assuming that all potential office holders would be Christian. In addition, he suggests (with the late D. James Kennedy) that those who don’t believe in God have no basis for life-affirming values.

Threatened with legal action, radio-interviewed and written about hither and yon, Bothwell is not unaware of the arguments being deployed. Bothwell answers them calmly via his own blog. For example, he writes:

Blind belief in the righteousness of our current wars is bankrupting this country while our economy has gone into a tailspin. And while our leaders often cloak their actions with prayer and religious posturing, it is the oil companies and defense contractors who reap profits while our young women and men sacrifice their lives.

And, in regard to death, it is my conclusion that those of us who believe that this is our one and only life are much more likely to value and protect the lives of our brave soldiers and our citizens than those who believe that they will live again in heaven.

Yet the nature atheists, who from here appear to be a varied lot indeed, isn’t the issue here. Religious freedom is. One need not be a Bothwell supporter to note, as we did earlier, that the U.S. Constitution supersedes any and every state constitution where there are conflicts. Then there is both the First Amendment to consider and Article VI, which says: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Religious belief and/or the lack thereof have no bearing on the right to exercise the privileges of citizenship in this country. That’s our way of keeping the state out of our religion (or lack thereof), and it works.


December 20, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , | Comments Off on The N.C. silly season on office-holding atheists goes pandemic

Top-ranked 2009 religion stories/topics/typo

The Religion | Newswriters Association offers Top Religion Stories of 2009 – the result of a survey of more than 100 religion journalists. They emphasize the top 10 but actually offer the top 23 stories, beginning with Obama’s June speech “pledging a new beginning in Muslim-U.S. relations.” Of that, the Springfield News-Leader wrote:

Obama extended a hand to the Islamic world in a speech in Cairo while quoting from the Quran, the Gospel of Matthew and the Talmud, the collection of Jewish law.

“So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity,” Obama said in the speech. “And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.”

Time Magazine has its Top 10 Religion Stories for 2009, although they are more topics than stories.

The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty offers the top 10 religious liberty stories of 2009 (in reverse order). Some are stores in the journalistic sense. But as with Time, most are topics attended by brief essays. Number one, for example, is “New President brings change, but delays some tough decisions.”

Catholic News Service tells us 2009 was a busy year for the pope, reviewing those top stories, albeit without enumeration. Not critical reviews, BTW.

The London Telegraph’s Martin Beckford (religion and social affairs correspondent) has his own Top religion stories of 2009. In his view, “Following a year of turmoil in the worldwide Anglican Communion over women bishops and homosexuality, over the past 12 months most of the newsworthy events seem to have involved the Roman Catholic Church and Britain.”

Regret The Error’s Typo of the Year (amid its top corrected journalistic errors of 2009) is about religion:

The Daily Universe, a student paper at BYU, recalled and trashed 18,000 copies of an edition after discovering a typo. Notably, it was a typo that could have offended the Mormon church. The paper issued a brief apology and also published a lengthy article to explain the error.

That can happen when one substitutes “apostate” for “apostle” thus referring in a photo cutline to a nonexistent Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints group called, “Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostates,” when Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is intended.

December 20, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , | 1 Comment