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Mississippi, 6 other states have bans on atheists holding office

ANNAPOLIS — Some freedom-from-religion advocates are pressing Maryland and six other states to remove provisions from their state constitutions prohibiting people who don’t believe in God from holding public office.

The Openly Secular coalition, based in Columbus, Ohio, says the other states are Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. The New York Times first reported on the campaign.

The Supreme Court struck down such restrictions in 1961.

Maryland state Sen. Jamie Raskin said Thursday that the ban is among a number of what he called “obsolete provisions that are littering the constitution.”

The Montgomery County Democrat says those items could best be addressed by a constitutional convention. Marylanders get to vote every 20 years on whether to hold a constitutional convention. The next referendum is set for 2030.

 

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