From The Washington Post:
Atheist Revival in Arkansas
Hard to say what was more remarkable about the resolution that was read into the record and referred to committee Wednesday by a member of the 87th Arkansas General Assembly.
The resolution itself: HJR 1009: AMENDING THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO REPEAL THE PROHIBITION AGAINST AN ATHEIST HOLDING ANY OFFICE IN THE CIVIL DEPARTMENTS OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS OR TESTIFYING AS A WITNESS IN ANY COURT.
Or the fact that it was submitted by the Green Party’s highest-ranking elected official in America, state Rep. Richard Carroll of North Little Rock, who was elected in November winning more than 80 percent of the vote in his district.
In 2005, state Rep. Buddy Blair filed a resolution to affirm Arkansas’ support for the separation of church and state. The resolution lost 39-44 in the House.
Arkansas is one of half a dozen states that still exclude non-believers from public office. Article 19 Section 1 of the 1874 Arkansas Constitution states that “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.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled all such state provisions unconstitutional and unenforceable in a 1961 ruling in a Maryland case: “We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person ‘to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.’”
Carroll is merely trying to do some symbolic constitutional housecleaning, but it won’t be easy.
The current list of states banning Atheists from serving in government are Arkansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, if you were wondering.