Eight states currently have constitutions that bar atheists from holding public office, though their rules have not been fully enforced since a 1961 Supreme Court ruling.
The states who have chosen to keep restrictions on atheists running for office are mostly southern states in the “Bible Belt” region, which tends to be highly conservative. They are: Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
“The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God,” reads North Carolina’s constitution, according to the Washington Post.
“No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court,” reads the rule in Arkansas.
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Pennsylvania is the northernmost state to have the restriction, according to the Inquisitr.
The U.S. Constitution prohibits religious tests from being required for citizens to hold office.
Though the restrictions are not enforced, running for office and getting elected without being publicly religious in state’s across the country is difficult. According to polls, a majority of Americans think that people must believe in God to be moral.
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Source: Washington Post, The Inquistr/Image: Washington Post