SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR ASHEVILLE, N.C. COUNCIL MEMBER CECIL BOTHWELL!
By AMERICAN ATHEISTS ACTION ALERT
Added: Thu, 24 Dec 2009 00:00:00 UTC
AMERICAN ATHEISTS ACTION ALERT
December 17, 2009
STAND NOW FOR ATHEIST CIVIL RIGHTS! SHOW
YOUR SUPPORT FOR ASHEVILLE, N.C. COUNCIL
MEMBER CECIL BOTHWELL!
Religious bigots are trying to use a bigoted and illegal
provision in the North Carolina State Constitution
to oppose an Asheville, N.C. elected official who is an Atheist!
Last fall, Cecil Bothwell won a position on the Asheville,N.C. City Council. During the swearing-in ceremony last Monday, however, Mr. Boswell -- an Atheist -- chose to not place his hand on a bible, or swear an oath to a deity. This has outraged opponents, including religious bigots who are trying to use a provision in the North Carolina State Constitution that automatically disqualifies anyone "who shall deny the being of Almighty God."
This provision violates the Constitution of the United States; and it is unlikely that Mr. Bothwell's intolerant opponents could prevail in the legal arena. Nevertheless, this story has spread in media throughout the country, and fueled another round of debate over whether Atheists, Humanists, and other nonbelievers are "really citizens" of the United States!
SUPREME COURT REJECTED "RELIGIOUS TEST"
In 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court in Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961) reaffirmed that the US Constitution prohibits States and the Federal Government from requiring any kind of religious test for public office. Ray Torcaso, who had made application to become a Notary Public, refused to swear a declaration of belief in God. This challenged a provision in the Maryland State Constitution; and the high court ruled that to be an impermissible religious test and violation of the First Amendment.
Twenty-nine years later, despite the ruling in TORCASO, another courageous Atheist --Herb Silverman -- challenged a South Carolina law barring non-believers from holding public office. It took eight more years of fighting for civil rights, but the state Supreme Court finally ruled struck down the bigoted religious test.
Eight states still have laws "on the books" requiring belief in a deity as a requirement for public office.
CECIL BOTHWELL STANDS UP TO RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE!
Mr. Bothwell has taken a courageous stance in refusing to conceal his Atheism; he could have taken a religious oath and chosen the easy path of "going along to get along." He didn't. Let's show our support for Cecil and let the nation's media hear from Atheists on this important issue!
* We suggest that you send letters or e-mails supporting Mr. Bothwell to the Asheville city government offices and let him know that nonbelievers throughout the country support his stance on behalf of civil rights and the separation of church and state. Contact him through Asheville City Government--their web-site is http://www.ashevillenc.gov/:
* Speak out in the media! This story is gaining traction everyday, so we suggest that you express your thoughtful opinions on bogs, talk radio, and in Letters to the Editor of local and national publication.
MORE ON THIS STORY
Lawsuit threatened over atheist councilman in NC
RALEIGH, N.C. - Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell believes in
ending the death penalty, conserving water and reforming government -
but he doesn't believe in God. His political opponents say that's a
sin that makes him unworthy of serving in office, and they've got the
North Carolina Constitution on their side.
Asheville councilman atheism debate goes viral: Cecil Bothwell gets
ASHEVILLE - As a writer, Cecil Bothwell always wanted a bigger
audience. Now as a new city councilman, he may have gotten more
attention than he bargained for. Bothwell, also a builder and someone
who has described himself as an atheist, and in recent years, as a
"post-theist," is seeing his face and name on blogs and news articles
from around the country. The viral explosion comes after a Tuesday
Citizen-Times story on how critics say he shouldn't be in office
because of a clause in the North Carolina Constitution preventing
atheists from being elected officials.
Wikipedia entry on TORCASO v. WATKINS
South Carolina Supreme Court Okays Atheists for Public Office
(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists, Freethinkers and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)
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Robert F. Worth - New York Times Comments
A great article about Jerry DeWitt and the growing presence of atheist communities
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