September 22, 2009

Separation remains mythical in Texas

A local atheist is taking umbrage with his city council for insisting on reciting an Xtian prayer in public meetings. They wouldn't respect his atheism even on the day he was to be presented a civic award, so he's called in some help.


jbrock said...

Out of curiosity, what, if anything, does the State Constitution of Texas have to say regarding religion?

On a tangential but related note, does the US Congress still have a Chaplain? And if so, how on Earth do they get away with it?

Mule Breath said...

Interesting question. The following are taken directly from our state constitution, but bear in mind that Texas is no different than any other state in regard to the fourteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Art. 1, Section 4:
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. (Highlight mine)

Art. 1, Section 5:
No person shall be disqualified to give evidence in any of the Courts of this State on account of his religious opinions, or for the want of any religious belief, but all oaths or affirmations shall be administered in the mode most binding upon the conscience, and shall be taken subject to the pains and penalties of perjury.

Art. 1, Section 6:
All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. No man shall be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent. No human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society or mode of worship. But it shall be the duty of the Legislature to pass such laws as may be necessary to protect equally every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship.

Art. 1, Section 7:
No money shall be appropriated, or drawn from the Treasury for the benefit of any sect, or religious society, theological or religious seminary; nor shall property belonging to the State be appropriated for any such purposes.

Our friend in Richland Hills might be able to argue section 7, but the real argument is the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. My biggest gripe, of course, is to section 4.

Mule Breath said...

I failed to answer your 2nd question. Yes, the Senate has a chaplain, and I'll let them explain it to you.

jbrock said...

Very interesting; thank you!

I can't imagine that Section 4 would withstand even a halfhearted challenge on First Amendment grounds.

Mule Breath said...

I can't imagine that Section 4 would withstand

Perhaps if we were discussing Diana Ross...