7/6/09

Mississippi Constitution Discriminates Against Atheists

US Flag and Mississippi FlagImage by Jim Frazier via Flickr

A reader, John, recently reminded me of something I've been meaning to address for some time. The Constitution of the State of Mississippi discriminates against atheists by explicitly stating that we are disqualified from holding office.
SECTION 265.
No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.

SOURCES: 1817 art VI §6; 1832 art VII §5; 1869 art XII §3.
Mississippi is not the only state engaging in this form of discrimination, but we are one of a shrinking number.

Given that the United States Constitution expressly forbids religious tests for qualification for office (Article VI, Clause 3), I would guess that legal challenges to our state law would be successful in federal court. Until then, we have the distinction of living in a state where discrimination is not merely legal but legally mandated.