Monday, October 09, 2006

Texas GOP Argues Atheist Shouldn't Be Elected

This is appalling and unconstitutional. ("[N]o religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.")

Funny how Christians (who have the Presidency, the overwhelming majority of the House and Senate, and practically all Judgeships) claim to be persecuted against.

Candidate for the Sixth Court of Appeals, Ben Franks, is reported to be a professed atheist and apparently believes the Bible is a "collection of myths."

...

All elected or appointed officials in Texas must take the oath prescribed by Art. XVI, Section 1(a) of the Texas Constitution:

"I, _____ , do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of _____ of the State of Texas, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State, so help me God." [Emphasis original.]

Should Franks be elected in November, one would have to conclude that he will hold true to his out of touch "atheist" belief system and ignore the laws and Constitution of Texas. [Emphasis mine.]


From the Republican Party of Texas's website, via Andrew Sullivan.

When are the non-crazy Republicans going to wake up and take back their Party?

It's worth noting that Franks disputes the claim that he has professed to be an atheist, although it shouldn't be relevant.

20 comments:

serapio said...

Indeed. Let's see, if holding true to a core religious belief would mean ignoring the laws of Texas, there's a problem. And that problem is not with the candidate.

asher said...

Didn't he know about this oath when he applied for the job or did this law that has been on the books since Texas became a state come as a wild surprise to him?

If you want a really different aspect please regard the case of the gentile woman who married a Jewish man, converted to Judiasm, enrolled in Jewish Theological Seminary to become a rabbi, did rather well, and then decided she was a lesbian and lives with her significant other. JTS has a policy of not ordaining people who profess to be gay....so what do they do. Apparenly this woman has an major identity problem.

I'd give her her tuition back and let her try again.

What about the Orthodox kids in Harvard, about two years ago, who were totally incensed that the first year of school required them to live in co-ed dorms. Horrors!
Can they claim surprise even though it was the student handbook for years and years?

Can't people think?

Laura said...

Asher: The regulations of a private social group is different than a state law that is in obvious violation of the US constitution. Can we just let Texas secede? Seriously.

Incidentally, I'm reading some articles about the World Values Survey and something like 90% of people in Pakistan and Iran think that someone who does not believe in God is unfit for public office... look at the direction we're headed folks...

skcorefil said...

I comment when something doesn't make sense.

Laura, your "Look at the direction we are headed" statement can't make sense unless the US is becoming less tolerant of atheists in public office which isn't the case.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/amer_intol.htm

Jewish Atheist said...

asher:

Are you saying it should be okay for a major party to oppose a candidate because he's (allegedly) an atheist?

Laura said...

skcorefil: That wasn't a very good article to make your claim that I was wrong about the direction we're heading. While the percentage of respondents saying they would vote for a well-qualified candidate who was an athiest has increased (slightly) over time, it is still far below that of other characteristics. There have been many studies recently showing that Athiest are the group Americans trust the least. According to your cited article, more people view athiesm as having a negative impact that Scientology. That's not moving in a direction toward not wanting Athiests in office? Sure, it's not as drastic as the Iranian numbers, but of all rich, Western nations, the US is far more God-oriented. 39% of US respondents to the 2002 World Values Survey said a candidate MUST belive in God to be fit for office. Compared with: Canada (21%), West Germany (18), Ireland (16), Italy (15), Britan (10). We're closer to Albania (44) and Turkey (57%) than any of our Western brethren.

Laura said...

Whoops, sorry - 1999 is the year the US numbers were gathered. So even before the President that God selected we were more Jesusy than our neighbors...

Resh Lakish said...

What part of Article Six “but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States” or the First Amendment “no law respecting an establishment of religion” of the Constitution do they not understand in Texas?

The response of the Dem. spokesperson was pathetic. The issue isn’t that it’s “out of line” to “question someone’s faith”, but rather that it’s nobody’s business what his religious beliefs are, and a witch-hunt for Atheists is unbecoming a modern society. Also, the implication that only theistic judges will uphold the law is ludicrous.

BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Luckily, for Jewish Atheists like me, if things get this bad in Canada, I can always move to Israel.

Jack's Shack said...

It is just wrong.

Random said...

To start off with a (small) defence of the Texas GOP. You're opening paragraph is simply wrong - they're not saying it's unlawful for him to stand and take the job (though such an argument would be supported by the state constitution, although it would run foul of the federal one), they seem to be arguing it would be hypocritical for him to do so, and the voters may wish to ponder before they put a hypocrite on the bench. Sleazing your opponent in other words may be in appalling taste but it's not unconstitutional.

Right, now that that's out of the way - this is indeed an extremely distasteful piece of work that relies on distortions if not outright lies (the alleged "I'm an atheist..." quote comes from a speech in which Franks *defends* the use of religious imagery in political statements) to make it's point.

That also said - "When are the non-crazy Republicans going to wake up and take back their Party?"

One could point out that given that the leading candidates for the next presidential nomination include the likes of Giuliani, McCain and (if she decides to run) Rice, they are pretty firmly in control of the party. And the fact that critics of the party have to dredge up little local disputes from the wilder fringes of Texas to try and show the contrary shows how far from power the theocrats actually are.

And as for comparisons with Iran...

Laura said...

Actually, I would lump Rice in with the crazies. She's not religiously crazy, but I'm convinced she's a vampire.

CyberKitten said...

Laura said: She's not religiously crazy, but I'm convinced she's a vampire.

I have to disagree. I'm pretty sure I've seen her in direct sunlight & she shows up on film... Not a vampire then. She might be a demon though... Not sure which type. Demonology isn't really my 'thing'.

Jewish Atheist said...

One could point out that given that the leading candidates for the next presidential nomination include the likes of Giuliani, McCain and (if she decides to run) Rice, they are pretty firmly in control of the party.

You really think one of those three has a chance? Only McCain comes close and he'll probably fail the party's religious test in the primaries.

Random said...

"You really think one of those three has a chance?"

Yes. Next question:-) You're confusing noise with power. Remind me again - how many times has Pat Robertson run for the Republican nomination, and how many times has he actually managed to secure it? Frankly, you're making the same mistake conservatives do when they assume that the moonbats on Democratic Underground and DailyKos are the authentic, leading voice of the Democratic Party.

Jewish Atheist said...

We're not talking about a fringe website, we're talking about the state GOP.

Axinar said...

The whole way I got interested in the Libertarian Party was when Bush Sr. was running for President in 1988 and he was quoted in an interview on the back page of the front section of the USA Today as saying that he didn't believe that atheists were citizens because the words in the pledge say, "One Nation Under God".

And I have yet to see a Democrat candidate that inspires much confidence in me so that leaves the Libertarians ...

Half Sigma said...

It's just a bunch of words he has to recite, which amounts to nothing more than "ceremonial deism."

A. Nonymous said...

I know for a fact that he claimed to be an atheist. I read the 2002 El Paso Times article where he made that statement. Even his back-pedalling doesn't make sense.

What I find disturbing is that with a little heat, he denies making that claim, instead saying he was misquoted. Reporters don’t lie, and don’t write things like that unless they can back up those statements.

Poor Benny Franks is a typical Democrat. He’ll tell people in El Paso one thing but won’t tell the truth in Bowie County, since he doesn’t want to upset anyone in the Bible Belt. He’s a terriffic liar. If he thinks that’s what they want to hear, he’ll say it. I guess there goes his claims of high morality.

Should be a good year for Bowie County Republicans. I'd suggest voting for a man who stands by his personal convictions.

Anonymous said...

Franks' statement was NOT made in defense of freedom of speech. The preliminary draft of the 2002 Texas Democratic Party platform mentioned "God-given privileges." Some wanted to subsituted "human privileges" in lieu of that phrase. Franks said about the "God-given" phrase, "I'm an atheist and it does not bother me. I am a pragmatist."