Fields: Atheists Have Rights, Too

Guest Columnist

What do North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Texas, Maryland and Tennessee have in common about holding public office?
Give up?
Their state constitutions still prohibit atheists from being everything from governor to notary publics.

For the most part the provisions are ignored because Article VI of the United States Constitution prohibits a religious test for office.
Nevertheless, as recently as the 1990’s states were denying notary seals to atheists.  Seemingly the last to go was South Carolina in 1997 when the South Carolina Supreme Court, citing to Article VI, gave the governor 15 days to issue the notary seal to the plaintiff.
I say seemingly because the issue has once again reared its head in Raleigh, North Carolina where atheist Cecil Bothwell was elected to the city council. At his swearing in he refused to swear to God as the North Carolina Constitution requires.
Some of the local yahoos are threatening to take Raleigh and Bothwell to court.  Here is the story.

Their chances to succeed are none and something less than that.
What makes the story most interesting is the man who is leading the charge against Bothwell.  It is H.K. Edgerton, a black activist who proclaims blacks were happy serving their masters in the old South and who now heads “Southern Heritage 411. 
As the attached link shows, he ain’t exactly what you might expect.

22 Responses to “Fields: Atheists Have Rights, Too”

  1. frank icanosty says:

    That is outrageous!! You should pack a bag full of the smug, sanctimonious drivel that passes for “Sam Fields observation” and move immediately to Arkansas to begin the fight against this injustice–this is such in important issue that you may wish to stop by the local chapter of the ACLU on your way out of town and see if any of those douchebags want to hop in the back of your Prius and head out there with you

  2. Chaz Stevens says:

    Hey Frank.

    As a 20+ year card carrying member of the ACLU, I would like to remind you of two points.

    1) My Gawd carries a hammer. Your’s was nailed to a cross. Mine dude will kick the shit out of Jesus anyday.

    2) Speaking of Jesus, that’s the name of the dude that cuts my lawn.



  3. Sam Fields says:

    Dear Frank
    Do I understand your position correctly?

    You favor a relgious test for public office and are pro-slavery.

  4. Clayman Thomas says:

    Many of the Founding Fathers were skeptics about religionand some may have even been atheists. If a city council member insisted upon being sworn in by putting his hand on the Koran, what would H. K. Edgerton say?

  5. Chaz Stevens says:

    Oh and I think Frank, per his Prius comment, throws trash out along the highway.

  6. Coolio says:

    Sam, I don’t know about some of the states you mention, but I think you’re dead wrong about Pennsylvania. I think the only menion of a religious qualification for office in its constitution is the following passage that says belief in God SHALL NOT disqualify anyone from working for the state. That’s hardly the same as requiring such a belief.

    I quote:

    “No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth.”

    If I’m wrong, can you post the appropriate constitutional passage?

  7. Sam Fields says:

    Dear Coolio,

    I did not read the original but relied on articles in the Herald. And on the Web

    Looks like it was wrong as far a PA is concerned

  8. Sam Fields says:


    Thomas Paine was an atheist. Teddy Roosevelt referred to him “as that dirty little atheist”.
    It is a sobriquet that he would have proudly worn

  9. God wins says:

    Glad to see some states taking a stand in favor of our founding fathers. This country was built better yet, this world was established by religion-like it or not. You cannot change the history of this country.

    Scripture says, People who know their God shall be strong and do exploits.

    In my view people who do not know their God are lost and cannot do any good for anyone.

    Yes I said it OUTLOUD.

  10. God wins says:


    I think the reason you are constanting talking about your “lack” of faith in God is because you are searching for the truth. I think something is happening in your life such as an awaking, a illness, divorce, loneliness, or just a tug on your heart from God himself.
    I think you are not as atheist as you maybe deceived into believing. Perhaps your whole outlook will change in a few days, weeks, months, or years. I have a sneaky feeling it will change sooner than you think. Remember this post.

  11. Sam Fields says:

    Dear God

    I have been an atheist since the age of 12. While my atheist beliefs did not follow a divorce I will confess that it did occur around the time Rebecca Gottlieb made clear she would not give me the time of day.

    Come to think of it, her hooters were heavenly.

    If you knew me personally, as for instance Buddy does, you would quickly realize that you never knew anyone more comfortable in his skin.

    Definitely more so than you. You and the rest of my critics are afraid to even use your real name.

    Afraid to publicly stand up for your ideas, you hide behind screen names to perpetuate your superstitious bullshit.

  12. Nico says:

    Sam, I have not liked you other atheist articles all that much, but this one, you approached from an understandable position and didnt alienate people… Your PR is much better and your cause thanks you I am sure.. Not that I agree with your take on God.. but I agree with your position and dont think anyone should be discriminated against for their ideas or beliefs… and I am sure God would ask that others have mercy and passion on your beliefs, just becasue they are different then their own… Just dont get organized religion and God confused…two very different things, one is made by man and is fallable the other is omnipresent, whether or not we agree or not.. Either way have a Merry Christmas, and enjoy and perpetuate the positive optimism, which is the Holiday spirit, of course from Atheist point of view.. But show us religious fools, how much happier an atheist is during the season for his lack of beliefs then us small minded religious pundants… Have a good one

  13. God says:

    God is where we are from and where we are going. It is the thing over which we cannot become superior. It is the thing without which we would not exist. God is all that which lies beyond our understanding. It fills in the blanks of sentences for which we have no words.

    God is the why and how of all things.

    To deny God is to live with the blanks and acknowledge being nothing, from nothing going to nowhere. Nothing begets only nothing and therefore acknowledges nothing greater than itself. It is only when we ascribe value to what we are that the concept of something of value creating us surfaces. That value is God.

    If we are of value, then there must be something greater than us however far from our understanding. That is God. If we have value then God is the source from which we came and the answer to where we’re going.

    We occupy a small planet that is nothing more than a piece of sand in comparison to the vast beach that represents our universe. Everything we are, everything we can become, everyone that has or will ever live and all their contributions put together amount to that one grain of sand in comparison to the vastness of the universe.

    Wherever that universe came from, however it was formed, whatever it’s relation to us on this planet, whatever the purpose if there was one, all this and much more is God.

    God does not need us to do anything for it. It has already done all that it can for us.

    What is left is what we need from one another and what we can do for one another. It is in that sense that God takes on a greater significance because the unity God’s source is what unites us at a prime level. Without that, we are strangers all, owing nothing to one another. And that leads to lack of order.

    In this context, God is a unifying force, a tool that we can use to create order of disorder.

    And so the question “is there God” is no different than the question “what are we.” Or “how did we get here” or “what is our purpose” or “where are we going.” All of those are the same question.

  14. Blue Man Scoop says:

    “In my view people who do not know their God are lost and cannot do any good for anyone.”

    You’re a pompous moron. Why should we care what you think?

  15. Sam Fields says:

    Dear God and Nico,

    Being that the people on this planet worship thousands of different gods that are more often than not utterly irreconcilable I can’t be sure which one you are talking about.

    Nevertheless I will assume that you are followers of the Judeo Christian bibles which apparently neither of you have ever bothered to read.

    Your gods (yes a do mean gods since any fair reading of the bible makes clear they are talking about different gods at different times) are hardly forgiving kumbaya types.

    They regularly order the genocide of those who disagree not to mention an eternity in the Lake of Fire for those who do not kiss his supernatural ass.

    Yes, yes, yes I know your type. You don’t believe what the bible says. You are just convinced that the bible says what you believe.

    Unlike you, I have actually read the bible. It is pro rape, slavery, genocide, infanticide and any other evil you have in mind. And it is all acceptable if done in the name of the Yahweh.

    I have a standing offer to publicly debate any of you fools anywhere and anytime that is mutually convenient.

    Your cowardice makes clear that you really don’t believe your own bullshit about an all powerful god.

  16. God says:

    First, it is perfectly acceptable blog protocol not to identify yourself or to do so when you wish. So get over it.

    Second, in answer to your question about which God among the Gods and so forth, the attempt was to explore the concept of God generally without need to impose a particular image. Where and how one runs with the God concept is largely up to them but some generalities apply. They can accessorize the thought as they wish or leave it bare if they prefer.

    Third, the main concept of God begins with an acknowlement that there is something greater than us. My argument is that thing is God and yes, that it does exist. It may or may not have written or inspired a book. It may or may not have blue eyes. It may or may not have a long beard. It is likely greater and more powerful than the Sun as early men originally worshiped. They may or may not have been closer to hitting the mark than traditional religion.

    Fourth, and most important. There are no wrong answers here because nobody knows for sure. And for those that do, to put such effort into trying to justify a particular viewpoint is suspect.

  17. Sam Fields says:

    Even if you do not always understand the right answer you can identify a wrong one. I don’t know how a magician saws a woman in half or levitates her. Neverless I have no problem eliminating the obvious answer that he actually reverses the law of gravity or disects and reassembles humans.

    The same for attributing the origns of the universe to some invisible supernatural force that seems to be obsessed with how and when women get the high hard one.

    Unlike you I do not feel compelled to have an answer to everything. There are some things that are beyond my limited intelligence beginning with quadratic equations.

  18. Sam Fields says:

    As for anonimity I understand that is a widespead custom. So is smoking crack.

    I could have easily chosen to write ananomously but unlike you I am not a coward who is afraid to publicly stand up for my ideas.

    It just makes me think you don’t really believe your bullshit and you are afraid that if you come to your senses you will not be able to separate yourself from your foolish writings.

  19. God (Exactly My Point) says:

    You say that there are things beyond your limited experience. That is an honorable admission. Some might say it’s the first step toward faith.

    I think your admission is true for all mankind. I would go further and suggest that our experience will always be limited. Quite simply, those things greater than us, which defy our understanding and over which we can exert no control, are God.

    Once there is nothing left that we fail to understand or control, we become God because, at that point, there will be nothing greater than us. We ain’t there yet.

    You can call God science if you want. You can call it the unknown. But those are just words.
    You can say that God is a concept that in our experience errodes as we progress. I would probably agree with that.

    But it remains true that God is the mechanism that we use to describe all that which is greater than us. People and religions accessorize that thought in a variety of ways as I have explained. You are free to accept that or not, but athiests and thiests alike have no need to proselytize. There are no wrong answers.

    I remain comfortably anonimous, with my God given courage intact, sans my crack pipe.

  20. Sam Fields says:

    Dear God
    If, as you say, “there are no wrong answers” then why didn’t I get 1600 on my SAT?

  21. God says:

    You didn’t get a 1600 on your SAT for the same reason you refuse to acknowledge the possible existence of God, however defined. Your effort was insufficient.

  22. Hoos Bin Pharteen says:

    Merry Christmas!!!