Murfreesboro Freethinkers Message Board › Tennessee Article 9, Section 2 : Atheists not eligible to hold public office

Tennessee Article 9, Section 2 : Atheists not eligible to hold public office

Jason B.
JPBrooks
Murfreesboro, TN
Post #: 7
From the Constitution of the State of Tennessee.

Article 9: Disqualifications
Section 2: No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments shall hold any office in the civil department of this state

http://www.state.tn.u...­

This is something I would be interested in changing.
phil l.
ploubere
Murfreesboro, TN
Post #: 9
I recall someone in Nashville Secular Life was working on that.
http://www.meetup.com...­
Jason B.
JPBrooks
Murfreesboro, TN
Post #: 8
I contacted the FFRF about this and here is a reply from one of their staff attorneys. In short, she says it's on the books, but is no longer enforced:

Jason,

Thanks so much for your email regarding the Tennessee State Constitution and the provision for eligibility for public office. This provision is no longer valid. We have an FAQ up on our website about this which explains the state of the law further: http://www.ffrf.org/f...­

Even though these provisions are dead letter law, they are still on the books in some states. In order to remove them entirely a lawsuit challenging the provision must be brought. In order to do that, however, you would need to have a candidate be denied a seat because of his/her atheism. That has not happened, although you might recall it was thought about when Cecil Bothwell ran for City Council in Asheville, NC. Here's an article about his situation:http://www.citizen-ti...­. He was eventually given his seat on the Council so the challenge never came to fruition. Another way would be to petition the legislature to have the language removed.

Thanks again for your inquiry. Please let us know if you have further state/church concerns.

Stephanie Schmitt
Staff Attorney
Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 750
Madison, WI 53701
(608) 256-8900
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