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North Carolinians Seek to Bar Atheist From Office

cecilbothwellHere’s the gist: North Carolina’s constitution says that no one denying the existence of god can hold public office. The US Constitution says that there shall be no religious test for holding office. Which one trumps the other? I think that should be fairly clear, but to the residents of North Carolina that seem to be stuck in the 1600’s, it is a fight worth fighting. Never mind the fact that Cecil Bothwell was duly elected to the Asheville City Council.

In an article in the Asheville Citizen-Times, H.K. Edgerton, former president of the Asheville NAACP said, “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.”

Wait wait wait. Someone who is affiliated with the NAACP, an organization that seeks to preserve the rights of a group of people oppressed for generations, is now wanting to deny rights to someone? Who cares if it’s in the state constitution? It’s forbidden in the US Constitution. How hard is this, people? There’s even case law to back this up. In 1961, Maryland’s religious requirement was deemed unconstitutional as it violated the first amendment’s freedom of religion.

I suppose what irks me the most is that Christians never give pause to consider how they would feel if they were the ones being barred from holding office due to their beliefs. But they don’t consider that because they are in a healthy majority and don’t have to.

Discriminatory Insurer Fined in Kentucky

kyflagKentucky just can’t seem to untangle itself from religion. From being home to the Creation Museum to housing a legislature that has apparently never heard of the Establishment Clause, Kentucky is slowly, but surely, making me feel slightly better about living in Alabama.

The most recent incident of religious boneheadedness concerns the extension of discounts to insurance policyholders who were churchgoers. Offering a discount based on religion is in violation of the Fair Housing Act, a federal statute that “protects” buyers and renters by maintaining their right to discriminate.

I hope I don’t lose anyone here, but hear me out. While I am not at all a Libertarian, the following part may make some of my Libertarian friends moist in their nether regions.

While it is generally a good thing to keep religion out of things like buying a home, there are certain places where the marketplace could course-correct and eliminate the need for Federal intervention. If I were to own an insurance company, of course I would gladly take the money of anyone that walked through my door, regardless of their religious beliefs. As an atheist, it would absolutely make my day to meet a fellow non-believer, and if I wanted to tip them a discount, I should be able to. After all, I would be doing no harm except to my bottom line. Hell, if I was in a progressive enough area, I might be so bold as to offer a discount on auto insurance to customers who show me their Darwin fish emblem. But none of these things are legal thanks to the Fair Housing Act.

What makes this a particularly sticky situation is that our current system is not sufficiently competitive to allow for consumers to have access to alternatives to such religious buffoonery, as was the case in Kentucky. There are many laws (particularly state and local laws) which prevent some properties from being insured by out-of-state insurance policies. This could be super sucky for someone living in Kentucky who may have no other choice but to purchase homeowner’s insurance from a fundy.

However, it would be nice if some brave soul opened the Atheist Insurance Agency and his or her loyal customers from all 50 states could enjoy discounts, great service, and truly be in “good hands”.

Atheists = 1, Kentucky = 0

Nelson-HahaIt’s been almost two weeks, so the most dedicated atheist newshounds out there will already have seen this. A Kentucky circuit judge ruled that the 2006 statute that created the State Office of Homeland Security is in violation of the establishment clauses in both the U.S. and Kentucky Constitutions.

Ten brave Kentucky residents and the American Atheists sued the state and WON! In their case, they successfully argued the following:

“It is clear that the purpose underlying the display of the plaque and the contents of Office of Homeland Security training materials is not to celebrate the historical reasons for our great nation’s survival in the face of terror and war. Its purpose is to declare publicly that the official position of the Commonwealth of Kentucky is that an Almighty God exists and that the function of that God is to protect us from our enemies. Consequently, a reading of the statute’s plain language makes that clear. Effectively, the General Assembly has created an official government position on God.”

Judge Thomas Wingate delivered an 18-page decision in favor of reason stating:

“The statute pronounces very plainly that current citizens of the Commonwealth cannot be safe, neither now, nor in the future, without the aid of Almighty God. Even assuming that most of this nation’s citizens have historically depended upon God, by choice, for their protection, this does not give the General Assembly the right to force citizens to do so now.””This is the very reason the Establishment Clause was created: to protect the minority from the oppression of the majority,” he wrote. “The commonwealth’s history does not exclude God from the statutes, but it had never permitted the General Assembly to demand that its citizens depend on Almighty God.”

I have to admit: I didn’t think Kentucky was going to do the right thing on this one. A tip of my hat to Judge Wingate for proving me wrong.

Sarah Palin is Too Good to Pray With You

sarah_palinI didn’t think it was possible after this past election cycle, but Sarah Palin has continued to make herself look even dumber in the months following the McCain/Palin defeat.

This time she reached new lows by expressing her elitism regarding prayer. She apparently found herself in a situation where she looked around at a bunch of campaign staffers, judged them, and decided that they weren’t fit to pray with her. What a psycho.

Here’s the blurb:

“So I’m looking around for somebody to pray with, I just need maybe a little help, maybe a little extra,” she said of the moments before the debate. “And the McCain campaign, love ’em, you know, they’re a lot of people around me, but nobody I could find that I wanted to hold hands with and pray.”

To which the room full of Alaska Republicans guffawed heartily. Oh but at least she went on to specify that she didn’t mean any disrespect. Yeah no disrespect, except I have looked at you and sized you up to be inadequate to aid me in my spiritual needs.

It’s no surprise that some of the former McCain staffers are pissed at the comments. I would be too, if I actually gave a crap about that kind of thing. I just think it goes to show how delusional so many people were to vote for her to be one heartbeat away from the red button.