Target: Maryland Senator Ben Cardin
Goal: Remove discriminatory language against atheists from Maryland’s Constitution
Maryland’s Constitution requires those who run for public office to declare that they believe in God before they can hold their positions. The outdated language is discriminatory against atheists and there is no good reason it has not been removed.
A Supreme Court case decided in 1961 that no “religious test” could be conducted for those who wanted to hold public office after a bookkeeper refused to say he believed in God just to serve as a notary public. Despite this ruling, the language is still blatantly discriminatory and no action to change it has been made. Additionally, Article VI of the United States Constitution says no “religious test” should ever be required for federal office.
The article does not align with Maryland’s history or America’s for that matter. America was founded as an escape from religious persecution and the language in Maryland’s Constitution does not reflect this. It is denying a basic human right to be treated equally and atheists do not deserve to be persecuted like this.
If banning atheists from holding public office is unconstitutional, then why has the language not been removed? It is offensive and archaic. This is no different than language being discriminatory against women or African Americans so it needs to be rectified immediately. Please sign the petition below to urge Maryland to change its Constitution’s language in order to be nondiscriminatory against atheists.
Dear Mr. Cardin,
Although discriminating against atheists has been ruled unconstitutional, Maryland’s Constitution still contains articles that require those who hold public office to say they believe in God. This article is unenforceable and should have been removed in 1961 when the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to require a “religious test” to hold public office.
While its removal may not seem important if the rule cannot be enforced anyway, many politicians have tried using the ban to remove their political opponents from office. These attempts have all failed, but it can make the path to holding public office arduous for atheists. Please consider how offensive and alienating the language is to those who do not believe in God. This is no different than language that discriminates against women or African Americans and should be treated as such.
Please understand how important this issue is for many citizens and take action to help push for political support to remove this discriminatory language. By doing so, Maryland can more accurately reflect its tolerant views and be more encouraging to secularists interested in running for public office.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jimmy Emerson via Flickr