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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.

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December 20, 2009 - Posted by | Politics, Religion | , ,

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