Pray to Play: North Carolina Voters Seek to Seek To Block Swearing in of New Bar Council Member Under State Constitutional Ban of Atheists in Public Office

Some people in Asheville, North Carolina are up in arms about a man just elected to the city council. No he is not corrupt or an adulterer. Those are virtually qualifications in today’s politics. The problem is not what Cecil Bothwell is but what he is not: God-fearing. Opponents are opposing his election on the basis of a provision of the North Carolina Constitution that bars atheists from public office. One is the former head of the NAACP. It is clearly unconstitutional and would make for a wonderful (and educational) challenge for North Carolina.

H.K. Edgerton, a former Asheville NAACP president, does not appear disturbed about discriminating against people on the basis of faith as opposed to race: “I’m not saying that Cecil Bothwell is not a good man, but if he’s an atheist, he’s not eligible to serve in public office, according to the state constitution.”

Article 6, section 8 of the state constitution says: “The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

We have previously seen candidates opposed for their belief in creationism (here) or their lack of belief in God (here). I am not sure why atheists are viewed as inherently disqualified. At least with an atheist, you know that he is not hoping for something better later. This is it. Indeed, Mr. Bothwell should have run on the slogan: “Vote for Me: This is All I Got.” If you do not believe in an afterlife, you really want to make this heaven on Earth. It is the same reason it may be an advantage to have pilots who are atheists: they have nothing to look forward to if they crash, here.

Article VI of the U.S. Constitution says: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The Supreme Court clearly ruled that such requirements are unconstitutional in Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961).

Bothwell acknowledges that he is an atheist on his MySpace page, though he wrote in an online post last week that he prefers the term “post-theist.” At the moment, many are trying to keep him a pre-council member.

For the full story, click here.

56 thoughts on “Pray to Play: North Carolina Voters Seek to Seek To Block Swearing in of New Bar Council Member Under State Constitutional Ban of Atheists in Public Office”

  1. Elaine,

    You’ve got it backwards, the tension has to come before the climax. Thus the single non-alliterative name, you place it before the one with the greatest harmony to make the highlight that harmony.

  2. “I am beginning to believe that both sanity and insanity are communicable diseases, and that we all have both in us, struggling at times to dominate.”

    I agree with your statement above and with your linked article. I think hisotically this could also be shwon. The German people were not any worse humans than the cultures around them and yet they could be infected with NAZI mania and become literally insane for a time, following insane leaders. The historical examples are too many to raise here.

    “This country is REALLY starting to scare me.”

    Me too and while I’ve always been something of an optomist about the world, I find darker thoughts creeping in.

    “I believe according to some of the Fundamentalist groups who are big “supporters” of Israel that “Droopy Dog” Joe Lieberman would have to convert to Christianity before the Rapture–or he ain’t going to be beamed up to the “heavenly” promised land.”

    Ignorant Joe and the other ignorant Jewish Fundamentalists that cozy up to Christian Fundamentalists ignore the real beliefs of of “Revelations.” They do so in the hope of creating alliances that will assist Israel, but fail to see that their direction goes the opposite way.

    BTW I’m more an Essence of Erato type of guy.

  3. Gyges–

    Do you mean that the names of the different scents in my line of Pagan Perfumes should be listed in such a way that when they are read aloud in succession the reader feels a verbal crescendo mounting in his/her voice rising to a sonorous climax–followed by an anticlimatic dip in glottal thrust?

    I do like the idea of high-resolution perfumes.

  4. Elaine,

    You have to think of this as a song instead of a series of isolated notes. Without tension there can be no resolution.

  5. Personally of the lot I’d probably prefer sent of sinner (depending on the sin).

    These all seem sort of Eurocentric, how about Essence of Isis, Bouquet D’Quetzalcoatl?

  6. Byron–

    Oxymoronic depending on the definition of “heavenly” you have in mind. According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the first defintion listed for heavenly is “Sublime; delightful; enchanting.”

    Don’t you suppose a heathen can be enchanting–just like someone who’s got religion?

    I like Joy de Juno. And how about A Zap of Zeus?


    FF LEO–

    One of my grandpappies used to hide little nip bottles of whiskey in different places around his house.

    BTW, I hope yer grammaw kept that alcoholic friend away from the bottle of vanilla too!

  7. “Odor of Odin”

    Well, that sounds better than the bottle of ‘Old Spice’ and Fitch’s hair tonic that I am still using since the mid-1950s.

    My grandpappy used to have to hide his colorful Fitch’s bottles when his alcoholic friend came a’vistin’ or the old boy would drink them dry. The stuff had like a 10% alcohol content and the colors ranged from emerald green to a beautiful blue but the durn stuff had lanolin in it, which caint be too good for your innards.

  8. BIL–

    You’ve given me an idea for a line of Pagan Perfumes: Heavenly Heathen, Amorous Atheist, Scent of Sinner, Odor of Odin, Vestige of Venus, Whiff of Wiccan. Oh, the possibilities!

  9. Jill–

    Black milk bottles are the ultimate in sinfulness.

    I’m a white milk bottle–or spotted milk bottle–or black milk bottle depending on your perspective of what constitutes the following: 1) being in a state of grace, 2) a venial sin, 3) a mortal sin.

    Actually, I’ve been in a state of agnostic euphoria for many years now.

  10. Nal,

    Would you like a saucer of milk to go with your response to FFLEO?


    Are you white milk, or are you —- the dreaded spotted milk bottle?

  11. FF LEO–

    Can’t say that I got the same advanced background in math and science at my parochial school. I probably could have passed an AP course in discipline with flying colors on the first day of high school though. And I sure could repeat verbatim answers to questions from my Baltimore Cathechism.

  12. The IT Factor,

    As a nonlawyer, I was just wondering about examples of precedents for cases, such as Torcaso, where the Supreme Court had to reaffirm an earlier SC’s decision—albeit controlling.

    The smartest kids I knew growing up in Colorado attended Catholic parochial school. When they entered high school with us heathens, they were so far advanced in math and science–as well as discipline–that they were admired and envied.

  13. “I would say that it would be slam dunk unconstitutional all the way to SCOTUS, but in this Country, in these times, with 30 years of peculiar judicial appointments, you never can tell.”

    I wish I could say that I think you’re wrong, Mike… but I can’t. This country is REALLY starting to scare me.

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