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Article: NC, SC among states where atheists can't hold office

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

A national article has taken aim at North and South Carolina on the states' restrictions of atheists in office.

According to The Washington Post, eight state constitutions include restrictions on people who don't believe in a supreme being.

In North Carolina, a section of the state Constitution states that "any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God" will be disqualified for office.

In South Carolina, the wording refers to an overall supreme being.

"No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution," the section states."

The Post points to a 1961 the Supreme Court ruling that a Maryland man appointed as a notary public didn't have to declare his belief in a supreme being to hold office, arguing it violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

A spokesman for the American Atheists told The Post that since the ruling these restrictions haven't been enforced.

But the group argues that candidates for office who are openly atheist face discrimination at the polls, The Washington Post quotes. The group says there is a belief that atheists aren't moral or trustworthy and that contributes to voters' reluctance to say they'd vote for them.

"The election of our leaders in the United States is one of the most important decisions that we as citizens make," American Atheists' president David Silverman told WBTV in 2012. "Allowing our judgment to be clouded by sheer silliness is unacceptable."

At the time, the group put up billboards targeting Christians and Mormons ahead of the DNC in Charlotte.

"Religion is the single most divisive and least relevant issue on the planet," Silverman said.

He says politicians who can not defend their point of view with facts, science and reason use religion to justify positions and in many cases their campaign itself.

Paragraph three of the Article Vi in the U.S. Constitution says that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Copyright 2014 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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