Unbelief: An Ignored Perspective – Footnotes (August 1994)


1 Paul Edwards, forward to THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF UNBELIEF xi (Gordon Stein, Ph.D., ed. 1985).

2 Id., quoting St. Thomas Aquinas’ SUMMA THEOLOGICA.

3 Id.

4 Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenson, 1 THE SALEM WITCHCRAFT PAPERS 27 (1977). As reported in sidebar to David A. Schreiber, Freethought, Skeptics and Scientific Methodology, FREETHOUGHT TODAY 5 (June/July 1992).

5 Id.

6 Paul Edwards, forward to THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF UNBELIEF xi (Gordon Stein, Ph.D., ed. 1985), quoting John Locke’s, A Letter Concerning Toleration.

7 As quoted in, Leo Pfeffer, CHURCH STATE AND FREEDOM 257 (1967).

8 Id.

9 “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.” ARK CONST Art. 19, s. 1.

10 MD CONST DECLARATION OF RIGHTS, Art. 36, excludes from jury service not only various religious groups whose members do not believe in God, but also all atheists and agnostics. Schowgurow v. State, 213 A. 2d 475 (1965).

11 “No person who believes in the existence of a supreme being shall be excluded from testifying on account of his opinions on matters of religion.” [emphasis added] NH ST 516:21. A person who openly and deliberately avows that he has no belief in the existence of a God, furnishes clear and satisfactory evidence against himself that he is incapable of being bound, by any religious tie, to speak the truth, and is unworthy of any credit in a court of justice. Norton v. Lass, 4 NH 444 (1828).

12 Agnostics and atheists may not be competent witnesses in South Carolina. 24 SC L REV 564.

13 ID ST 9-1402. Form of oath. “An oath or affirmation in an action or proceeding, may be administered as follows, the person who swears or affirms, expressing his assent when addressed, in the following form: You do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be), that the evidence you shall give in the issue (or matter), pending between _____ and _____, shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.” (emphasis added). Note: this is not truly allowing for an affirmation, since, regardless, the person must say “so help me God.”

14 TX CRIM PRO Art. 19.34, 35.02, 35.22, exclude nonbelievers and atheists as jurors. Art. 35.22 is the juror oath which requires that a juror recite “so help me God.”

15 ME ST T 16 s. 55 was repealed in 1977. This section related to a witnesses’ religious beliefs as a test of credibility and the ability of atheists to testify under affirmation.

16 see note at 7.

17 “No person shall be eligible to the office of governor who denies the existence of the Supreme Being.” SC CONST. The South Carolina statutes go further to bar “atheists or infidels” from holding the office of President of the University of South Carolina. SC ST s. 59-117-100.

18 “No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.” TN CONST. Art. 9, s. 2.

19 “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this state; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.” [emphasis added] TX CONST, Art. 1, s. 4.

20 Herb Silverman, The Candidate Without a Prayer, in FREETHOUGHT TODAY 8-9 (Sept. 1992).

21 Id. at 8.

22 Paul Edwards, forward to THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF UNBELIEF xi (Gordon Stein, Ph.D., ed. 1985).

23 Id.

24 Id.

25 Paul Edwards, forward to THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF UNBELIEF xii (Gordon Stein, Ph.D., ed. 1985).

26 Thomas Paine, THE AGE OF REASON 12 (Prometheus Books 1984).

27 Paul Edwards, forward to THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF UNBELIEF xii (Gordon Stein, Ph.D., ed. 1985).

28 Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826, ten days before his death.

29 Paul Edwards, forward to THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF UNBELIEF xii (Gordon Stein, Ph.D., ed. 1985).

30 Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787.

31 Albert Einstein, Religion and Science, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, Nov. 9, 1930.


33 in, THE GREAT QUOTATIONS 219 (compiled by George Seldes 1990).

35 Clarence Darrow, in The Great Quotations 191 (compiled by George Selde, 1990).

36 Mark Twain in ERUPTION.

37 Mark Twain, LETTERS FROM THE EARTH 11 (Bernard DeVoto, ed. 1962).

38 RUNNERS WORLD 83 (Sept. 1994). The runner also claimed that, “God was leading me to run.”

39 People v. Ruggles, 8 Johns (N.Y.) 290 (1811).

40 Leo Pfeffer, Church State and Freedom 666 (1967).

41 Id.

42 Maine (1975), New Jersey (1978), Vermont (1979) and Indiana (1976).

43 CO ST s. 18013-105, guarantees freedom of the press “unless publication is public offense because of blasphemy . . .”

44 LA CONST Art. 1, s. 7, was interpreted in Kennedy v. Item Co., 34 So.2d 886 (1948) as granting liberty of speech and of the press “except so far as such publications, for their blasphemy, . . . may be a public offense . . .”

45 “If any person, by writing or speaking, shall blaspheme or curse God, or shall write or utter any profane words of and concerning our Saviour Jesus Christ, or of and concerning the Trinity, or any of the persons thereof, he shall on conviction be fined not more than one hundred dollars, or imprisoned not more than six months, or both fined and imprisoned as aforesaid, at the discretion of the court.” MD CODE 1957, Art. 27 s. 20.

46 ‘Whoever wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, his creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior.” MA ST 272 s. 32.

47 MI ST 750.102 makes it a misdemeanor to “wilfully blaspheme the holy name of God . . .” Blasphemy is defined at s. 750.103.

48 OK with its notably trinitarian definition of blasphemy, “Blasphemy consists in wantonly uttering or publishing words, casting contumelious reproach or profane ridicule upon God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Scriptures or the Christian or any other religion.” OK ST T 21 s. 901. But note that it’s all right if done in the context of a “serious discussion,” as per OK ST T. 21 s. 902.

49 “Every person who shall commit blasphemy shall be imprisoned not exceeding two months or be fined not exceeding two hundred dollars.” RI ST s. 11-11-6.

50 Leo Pfeffer, CHURCH STATE AND FREEDOM 667 (1967).

51 see, King v. Waunakee, 185 Wis 2d 25, 517 NW2d 671 (1994).

52 I recently inquired of people what their experiences were and gathered many responses. Here is one which typifies the sorts of everyday occurrences that unbelievers have to put up with at the hands of religionists:

“As a Unitarian Universalist, I find that those who do not profess to be Christian are discriminated against in many ways. I have been told by coworkers that I would go to hell because I was not saved, and find myself having to bite my tongue (notice this is singular) as my patients describe the fact that they want a “Christian therapist” and assume that I am Christian because I am not Jewish. I am also discriminated against by finding Christian literature in my hotel rooms and having to listen to Christian prayers at public gatherings. When I avow to being agnostic, I am greeted with even less enthusiasm and when I sometimes respond with atheist, I am often met with the response that I must be kidding (I’m not). When my son at age 12 was asked to lead the boy scouts in the lords prayer and said he didn’t know it, he was accused by the leader of being a liar.”

53 OK ST. T. 70 sec. 11-101.0. Voluntary prayer. “The board of education of each school district shall permit those students and teacherswho wish to do so to participate in voluntary prayer.”

54 From a talk given by Joann Bell, the mother who brought suit against the Little Axe school district. Reported in FREETHOUGHT TODAY 8 (Nov. 1988). The case is Bell v. Little Axe Independent School District, 766 F. 2d 1391 (1985). The courts declared the prayer club unconstitutional, but said the matter of bible distribution by the Gideons was moot because the Gideons had promised to stop, and the court would not strike down the Oklahoma prayer law because “the school had not relied on that law to implement the prayer meetings.”

55 His disparagement of nonChristians during his official Congressional prayers resulted in a lawsuit in which the plaintiffs said Halverson was using his tax-supported pulpit to berate nontheists. Typical were such statements as, “[the] Godless . . . would deny and destroy human rights” and that, “liberties of a nation cannot be secure when belief in God is abandoned.” see, Kurtz v. Baker 829 F2d 1133 (US App. DC 1987).

56 excerpted from James Madison’s official response to the proposal of paid Congressional chaplains.

57 Weiss v. School Board of Edgerton, 1890 January Term 177, 219 (J. Orton, concurring).

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