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Remove the Ban Preventing Non-Religious Individuals from Holding Public Office in the State of Maryland

This petition had 140 supporters


 

Maryland Constitution: Declaration of Rights: Art. 37. That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.

It may appear that this law has no modern day relevance; it was effectively deemed irrelevant by the 1961 Supreme Court ruling Torcaso v. Watkins, in which it was found that Maryland’s requirement for a person holding public office to state a belief in God was in direct violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

In spite of the ruling, Maryland has failed to pass any legislation or take any action towards the removal or editing of Article 37 for the past fifty-three years.

Unfortunately, the prevalence of this law, which is clearly unconstitutional and violates the basic human right to equal access to public service (and happens to violate, at least to some extent, Article 18 and Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) is unnecessary and wholly detrimental as it only serves to discriminate atheists or other nontheists in an otherwise accepting society.

The law offers nothing but the following:

A.) Offers an avenue by which a political opponent can attempt to undermine their rivals on the basis of such a law (see: Cecil Bothwell election, Asheville, N.C., 2009) and thus promoting discrimination

B.) Allows for the filing of lawsuits in support of the barring of atheist from public office (e.g., following a victory by an atheist politician) in Maryland, which either a.) are ineffective and, ultimately, a drain upon state resources, b.) promote discrimination against those who do not believe in a god on the basis of state law, regardless of its irrelevance, or c.) are actually successful in legally barring an atheist from holding office

I sincerely believe that it is time for the progressive state of Maryland to take action and remove this discriminatory, detrimental law that is nothing but a liability. Maryland is a hallmark of progressive governing and is a role model for other states, many of which have similar, even more discriminatory laws; any action taken by the state of Maryland to end this discrimination will most certainly have far-reaching, positive effects throughout the U.S.

It is time for the people of the U.S. to stand up for their constitutional right to freedom of and freedom from religion. Regardless of religion or belief, it is necessary that we stand up against the violation of our basic human rights.

Please help us enforce the ideals of equality and tolerance that this country was built upon: sign below and tell your representatives to support the removal of Article 37.

Thank you,

M.P.



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