Tennessee bans atheists from office

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JoeyKnothead
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Tennessee bans atheists from office

Post #1

Post by JoeyKnothead »

From the articlehere:
Tennessean.com wrote: Preachers and atheists are both banned from holding public office by the antiquated state Constitution. State Sen. Mark Pody’s proposal to amend the Constitution unjustly seeks to bar discrimination against ministers while leaving intact the equally pernicious prohibition against atheists serving the people of Tennessee. The Senate passed the proposal unanimously in mid-April.
...
For debate:

Should theists have exclusive rights to hold public office?
Some theists want to define your beliefs for you.

Not unlike those who seek to infect government and laws in the name of a god they can't show exists.

A- non
Theist- belief in the existence of a god or gods

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Re: Tennessee bans atheists from office

Post #21

Post by bjs1 »

JoeyKnothead wrote: Thu Nov 11, 2021 8:07 am
bjs1 wrote: Tue Nov 09, 2021 2:17 am Here is a pretty good treatment of this topic:

https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2 ... me-court-/

Politifact rated the claim that atheists are barred for holding office as a "Half-Truth." The language is in the state constitution, but has been invalidated by the Supreme Court and atheists have been able to hold office in Tennessee for the past 60 years.
Whether or not such laws are enforced, or even constitutional, they remain laws within their respective states.
“Half-truth” seems like an accurate description here. There is a law on the books, but it’s not the law of the land.

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Re: Tennessee bans atheists from office

Post #22

Post by nobspeople »

[Replying to JoeyKnothead in post #1]
Should theists have exclusive rights to hold public office?
Everyone believes in something it seems. Be it god, an earth spirit, some long forgotten ancient, or nothing. So, it seems, prohibiting someone from holding public office for a belief (or lack of) would be wrong. Unless, everyone that believes in anything is forbidden. But then, we'd have little to no public servants.
The real issue is who the elected people serve: their people or their belief.
Any candidate I come across as having a christian belief, I actively vote against as much as possible. But politicians can't be trusted to be honest about their belief so I wonder how much it really matters in the big picture?

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Re: Tennessee bans atheists from office

Post #23

Post by Purple Knight »

JoeyKnothead wrote: Thu Nov 11, 2021 8:07 am
bjs1 wrote: Tue Nov 09, 2021 2:17 am Here is a pretty good treatment of this topic:

https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2 ... me-court-/

Politifact rated the claim that atheists are barred for holding office as a "Half-Truth." The language is in the state constitution, but has been invalidated by the Supreme Court and atheists have been able to hold office in Tennessee for the past 60 years.
Whether or not such laws are enforced, or even constitutional, they remain laws within their respective states.
Correct. This is how they legalised marijuana in Colorado. Marijuana is still federally illegal. They unconstitutionally passed laws preventing the enforcement of laws against marijuana.

Peoples' opinion of doing this seems to vacillate depending upon whether the policy ultimately enforced is to their liking or not.

Luckily I'm not a person. I'm an unfeeling machine, apparently. So sayeth people who know me in real life.

So be it. The point of states' rights is for policy to be tested, and anyone can be wrong, even me. Colorado has a right to legalise marijuana and Tennessee has a right to ban atheists from office.

As a side note I may move away from Colorado even though I voted for the law because at the time, I thought it was right. Legal pot has made all the pothead vagrants flood in from other states. Before the law you rarely saw a beggar, whereas now it's like California and there's one on every corner. In the downtown areas they get pushy, which frankly frightens me, or are so stoned out of their minds that they run in the road.

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Re: Tennessee bans atheists from office

Post #24

Post by bjs1 »

Purple Knight wrote: Tue Nov 16, 2021 3:10 pm
JoeyKnothead wrote: Thu Nov 11, 2021 8:07 am
bjs1 wrote: Tue Nov 09, 2021 2:17 am Here is a pretty good treatment of this topic:

https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2 ... me-court-/

Politifact rated the claim that atheists are barred for holding office as a "Half-Truth." The language is in the state constitution, but has been invalidated by the Supreme Court and atheists have been able to hold office in Tennessee for the past 60 years.
Whether or not such laws are enforced, or even constitutional, they remain laws within their respective states.
Correct. This is how they legalised marijuana in Colorado. Marijuana is still federally illegal. They unconstitutionally passed laws preventing the enforcement of laws against marijuana.

Peoples' opinion of doing this seems to vacillate depending upon whether the policy ultimately enforced is to their liking or not.

Luckily I'm not a person. I'm an unfeeling machine, apparently. So sayeth people who know me in real life.

So be it. The point of states' rights is for policy to be tested, and anyone can be wrong, even me. Colorado has a right to legalise marijuana and Tennessee has a right to ban atheists from office.

As a side note I may move away from Colorado even though I voted for the law because at the time, I thought it was right. Legal pot has made all the pothead vagrants flood in from other states. Before the law you rarely saw a beggar, whereas now it's like California and there's one on every corner. In the downtown areas they get pushy, which frankly frightens me, or are so stoned out of their minds that they run in the road.
This is an inaccurate description of the Colorado law. Colorado State removed its penalties for recreational marijuana use. The federal laws are still in effect. Until recently all 50 states had laws against recreational marijuana use, so it has been many years since there was a need to enforce federal statutes. As of yet the federal government has not actively enforced those laws in Colorado. The federal government can enforce those laws at any time, and the State cannot prevent them from doing so.

Tennessee does not have the right to ban atheists from holding public office. While the law is on the books, it is unenforceable and there has been no effort to enforce it for the past 60 years.

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Re: Tennessee bans atheists from office

Post #25

Post by JoeyKnothead »

bjs1 wrote: Fri Nov 19, 2021 1:45 pm Tennessee does not have the right to ban atheists from holding public office. While the law is on the books, it is unenforceable and there has been no effort to enforce it for the past 60 years.
My point in all this is that where the law remains on the books, it's just a matter of a judge, or the SC ruling the law legit, and atheists're then being banned from holding office.

That's why some states have abortion bans just waiting for Roe v Wade, et al, to be overturned.

There's also the symbolism involved - "We'd ban the atheists, if it weren't for federal overreach" (my term).
Some theists want to define your beliefs for you.

Not unlike those who seek to infect government and laws in the name of a god they can't show exists.

A- non
Theist- belief in the existence of a god or gods

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Re: Tennessee bans atheists from office

Post #26

Post by bjs1 »

JoeyKnothead wrote: Fri Nov 19, 2021 1:56 pm
bjs1 wrote: Fri Nov 19, 2021 1:45 pm Tennessee does not have the right to ban atheists from holding public office. While the law is on the books, it is unenforceable and there has been no effort to enforce it for the past 60 years.
My point in all this is that where the law remains on the books, it's just a matter of a judge, or the SC ruling the law legit, and atheists're then being banned from holding office.

That's why some states have abortion bans just waiting for Roe v Wade, et al, to be overturned.

There's also the symbolism involved - "We'd ban the atheists, if it weren't for federal overreach" (my term).
It is not the matter of “a judge” or the legislature to ban atheists from holding office. This would require an amendment to the US Constitution or an act of the Supreme Court.

SCOTUS could change the law of the land, but that is true for every law. It is theoretically possible for SCOUTUS to ban atheists, Christians, Muslims, or any other group from holing office. None of that is reasonably possible as this has been settled law for more than half a century.

I would not even compare this to Roe v. Wade, which continues to face regular challenges in court. I would compare it to the right to remain silent after an arrest (the protection against self-incrimination). This, like the right for atheists to hold public office, is settled law. While SCOTUS could overturn it at any moment, that is not reasonably going to happen.

I do agree that there is a symbolic issue at hand. While it is more likely an issue of failing to clean up outdate parts of the constitution, as opposed to a desire to actually ban atheists, the failure to remove the wording does carry symbolic weight. That is why I said the claim is a half-truth. It is not true that atheists are banned from holding office. It is true that the failure to clean up invalidated parts of the constitution creates a symbolic issue.

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Re: Tennessee bans atheists from office

Post #27

Post by Purple Knight »

bjs1 wrote: Fri Nov 19, 2021 1:45 pmThis is an inaccurate description of the Colorado law. Colorado State removed its penalties for recreational marijuana use. The federal laws are still in effect. Until recently all 50 states had laws against recreational marijuana use, so it has been many years since there was a need to enforce federal statutes. As of yet the federal government has not actively enforced those laws in Colorado. The federal government can enforce those laws at any time, and the State cannot prevent them from doing so.
That's just what I said. Marijuana is still federally illegal. I'd like to see the federal government storm Colorado just to arrest gaggles of potheads.
bjs1 wrote: Fri Nov 19, 2021 1:45 pmWhile the law [against atheists] is on the books [in Tennessee], it is unenforceable and there has been no effort to enforce it for the past 60 years.
I would wager the government of Tennessee knows the same thing the federal government knows about Colorado: If they tried to enforce, and made a fight of it, it would be seen as petty and public opinion would not be on their side. In these two cases, it certainly seems to be a case of where there is conflict, least unreasonable law wins. Or at least, the law that's on the side of not picking on anybody wins. The fellows attempting to toss a random atheist out of office for being an atheist are the same as the fellows who would have to swoop into Colorado just to arrest potheads: They'd be seen as the aggressors, mainly because they'd have to act first, and act against someone, to have their way.
bjs1 wrote: Fri Nov 19, 2021 1:45 pmTennessee does not have the right to ban atheists from holding public office.
I disagree because I think the point of having states' rights is for policy to be tested. I think it's a terrible policy, which is why I want that to come to light. They're not even banning atheists; they're just banning honest atheists. Someone didn't think it through. Like, at all.

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Re: Tennessee bans atheists from office

Post #28

Post by bjs1 »

Purple Knight wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 8:15 pm I disagree because I think the point of having states' rights is for policy to be tested.
The policy has been tested. It came to a head in Supreme Court case Torcaso v. Watkins in 1961. The ban was deemed unconstitutional. At this point it is settled law. States do not have the right to ban atheists from holding public office.

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/367/488/

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Re: Tennessee bans atheists from office

Post #29

Post by Purple Knight »

bjs1 wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 12:50 am
Purple Knight wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 8:15 pm I disagree because I think the point of having states' rights is for policy to be tested.
The policy has been tested. It came to a head in Supreme Court case Torcaso v. Watkins in 1961. The ban was deemed unconstitutional. At this point it is settled law. States do not have the right to ban atheists from holding public office.

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/367/488/
By tested I didn't mean tested in the Supreme Court as illegal or legal. I meant a state having the right to try out policies for itself and see what works and what doesn't.

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Re: Tennessee bans atheists from office

Post #30

Post by bjs1 »

Purple Knight wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 2:20 pm
bjs1 wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 12:50 am
Purple Knight wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 8:15 pm I disagree because I think the point of having states' rights is for policy to be tested.
The policy has been tested. It came to a head in Supreme Court case Torcaso v. Watkins in 1961. The ban was deemed unconstitutional. At this point it is settled law. States do not have the right to ban atheists from holding public office.

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/367/488/
By tested I didn't mean tested in the Supreme Court as illegal or legal. I meant a state having the right to try out policies for itself and see what works and what doesn't.
Which is why I wrote that it “came to head” in a Supreme Court case. States tried out various policies. These policies worked their way through the courts and through the practical governing of the nation. The final outcome of several years of examining this policy was the 1961 Supreme Court case which settled the law once and for all. Banning an atheist from holding public office is unconstitutional and can no longer be attempted in the USA.

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