Saturday, December 12, 2009

Religious Tests

Interesting article in this morning’s newspaper about how an elected Asheville, NC city councilman was being challenged by a local citizen, who asserts that the councilman should be denied office because he is an atheist. Turns out that the NC constitution, written in 1868, and revised as recently as 1971, still contains language that states a person cannot hold public office if he does not believe in God. That language is, of course, unconstitutional under the US constitution, but that rarely seems to matter to some folks. Whether the challenger actually believes that atheists should be denied public office, regardless of things called elections, is unclear. It may be, as the councilman notes, that some people are simply trying to overturn an election result that went against them. So, like War, religion may just be politics by different means.
But it makes me wonder why religious believers seem so easily threatened. Are they really all so insecure? Kind of like their war against gay and lesbian marriages. I have never understood how the marriage of two men, or two women as life partners would even in the slightest threaten the “sanctity of marriage”. Having been married for 54+ years, I confess to never feeling threatened by the prospect of homosexual weddings. I have often thought and said that heterosexual weddings seem to be a larger threat to the sanctity of the institution of marriage than anything homosexuals could possibly do. I refer, of course, to the high (50%??) divorce rate, and the continue high rates of domestic violence in which heterosexuals seem to think it’s ok to abuse their spouses and children.
Maybe we need something else to weed out threats to public institutions. Perhaps we need psycho-social tests that could demonstrate a person’s mental health status (with emphasis on potential violence traits). Or perhaps we should insist on intelligence tests as a requirement to hold public office (though, that might weed out ¾ of our current office-holders).
I always believed that this nation’s great strength was its plurality. We created and built this nation on the notion that all men (and women) are created equal. We need to celebrate that notion by eliminating these absurd religious tests, and by ignoring, perhaps even ridiculing, the silly folks who insist on applying them.
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