Anti-Atheist Bigotry by Texas Republicans

Gotta love this kind of hatchet job on a man running for an appeals court position in Texas. They've outed him as an atheist and are claiming that he will therefore refuse to do his job:

Should Franks be elected in November, one would have to conclude that he will hold true to his out of touch "atheist" belief system and ignore the laws and Constitution of Texas.

Only if one is a blithering idiot, of course. And that would appear to be a requirement for being in the Texas Republican party, home to the likes of David Barton and Terri Leo.

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According to Terri Leo, Genie favored the strengths and weaknesses language in November. This is false. Not only does she oppose that language now, as she did in November, she wasn't here in November. Why must people bear false witness?

I think the saddest thing is most voters would buy that line of reasoning hook, line, and sinker.

I just find that confusing. How is atheism "out of touch?" And why on Earth would it allow someone to ignore the laws and Constitution of Texas?

By CaptainMike (not verified) on 10 Oct 2006 #permalink

Can you say "projection"?

By Corkscrew (not verified) on 10 Oct 2006 #permalink

Do you think they mean he'll ignore the bit of the constitution that says "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States"? Oh, no, wait. They're the ones ignoring it.

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 10 Oct 2006 #permalink

There is no religious test for public office being applied here, Ginger. Voters are allowed to consider anything they wish in evaluating a candidate.

What I find amusing is that they are applying a conditional statement the man made as iron-clad evidence of belief. As it happens, Franks (rightly) insists that his religios views are private.

The sad fact is that it is far easier to run for public office as a gay or muslim than an atheist. Of course, now that I know he will ignore the Constitution, I understand that.

Am I missing something here? Is the U.S. Constitution suddenly scripture? Has someone gone and inserted a bunch of "God"s in it's formerly godfree text? Are they trying for that Pythonesque absurdity to get a laugh? Did someone forget to close the gates at the asylum? Do we actually let these people operate heavy machinery?

Does Canada quarantine dogs when you cross the border?

Is the U.S. Constitution suddenly scripture?

Actually the post refers to the Constitution of Texas, I wouldn't be surprised if it does contain scripture.

Hmmm. Free thinkers are deep in Texas politics -- free thinkers may have preceded Republicans in Texas, if I have my dates right.

What other faiths do Texas Republicans think unable to hold office? Mormons? Catholics? Episcopalians? Buddhists? Jews? Moslems? Why would they advertise that in a state loaded with such people?

"There is no religious test for public office being applied here, Ginger. Voters are allowed to consider anything they wish in evaluating a candidate."

I realise there is no legal issue. I'm just pointing out the irony.

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 10 Oct 2006 #permalink

Believe it or not, this is still part of the Texas Constitution's "Bill of Rights":

Article 1 - BILL OF RIGHTS
Section 4 - RELIGIOUS TESTS
No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

http://tlo2.tlc.state.tx.us/txconst/sections/cn000100-000400.html

Pieter B: There's no way that would ever stand up in court.

By FishyFred (not verified) on 10 Oct 2006 #permalink

I know that, FF, but it's amazing that it's still on the books. The legislature frequently submits amendments to a referendum, most recently in 2003.

This was recently discussed on one of the latest episodes of the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe and the Non-Prophets podcasts (same people, two different weekly formats). First the man is smeared as being a declared atheist with that quote you used. Then instead of doing the right thing ( which is to say "what does that matter? the Constitution forbits religious tests for public office." ) he cowardly denies he's ever said he's an atheist or given any clues that he may be an atheist. One of the folks at Non Prophets dug up a speech in which he did in fact declare himself an atheist, saying something like, "Well I'm an atheist so that's not even realy an issue for me" to some question.

Know what? All these politicisnas we're talking about are douches.

Raindogzilla asked...

"Does Canada quarantine dogs when you cross the border?"

Maybe or maybe not, but if a two-legged variety originating in Texas should seek to cross, Canada should certainly quarantine them.

There are, I think, 14 states that have similar provisions in their Constitutions, i.e., not allowing atheists to seek elected offices. North Carolina is one of them. Someone needs to challenge one of these (the easiest one) and the other 13 would then crumble on their own.

coturnix-

Done, 45 years ago. Torcaso v Watkins declared such state religious tests unconstitutional.

The funny thing is, an oath like the one published on the website Ed links too contradicts one of the 10 Commandments as Jews inerpret them. I had a religious school teacher once who told us that we are not supposed to take an oath that includes God's name like that. She explained how when she had to testify in court once she asked a rabbi what the proper thing to say was. Something like "I Affirm" if I recall. She also said that while atheism bugs her, she does not have a problem with atheists as people b/c most of them are good people anyway.

Last time I heard of someone whose religious beliefs led him to conclude that the law didn't apply to him, it was Kent Hovind.

The Texas condition isn't as bad as the one we have in Arkansas. Our Constitution says:

Article 19, section 1 of the Arkansas Constitution: Atheists disqualified from holding office or testifying as witness.
No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court.

It's ok though. It will come in handy if I'm ever subpoenaed.

So how come these things are still on the books then? Are they just voided by the US Constitution and so it doesn't matter if they are or not? Eventually someone will probably get around to removing the unconstitutional parts, but that's a bother so we'll just leave them in for now?

Leni wrote:

So how come these things are still on the books then? Are they just voided by the US Constitution and so it doesn't matter if they are or not? Eventually someone will probably get around to removing the unconstitutional parts, but that's a bother so we'll just leave them in for now?

The latter, most likely. When a provision is overturned, it doesn't automatically get taken off the books, it just can't be enforced. One famous example of this is in Alabama, where there was still a law against interracial marriage on the books as late as the year 2000. They put a referendum on the ballot to remove that language, and would you believe that 40% of Alabama voters actually voted to keep that law on the books even though it's been overturned? That's insanity for you.

Well, that's Alabama for you. I was there at the time (with a black girlfriend, natch), and I remember that about the same time Alabama also had the Roy Moore fiasco going on, as well as a law passed banning the sales of sex toys. It is an odd state, and I am pretty happy to be living elsewhere now.

By MJ Memphis (not verified) on 13 Oct 2006 #permalink