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Atheists In Alabama No Longer Have To Swear Oath To God To Vote

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  • Atheists In Alabama No Longer Have To Swear Oath To God To Vote

    Great to hear. It's incredible that this even still existed, but until this case, any atheist (and pretty much anyone who didn't believe in the Christian God, depending on how one looks at it) was required to swear an oath to 'God' in order to vote, and could technically be held guilty of perjury if they swore the oath and did so 'falsely' (which would apply to anyone that doesn't believe in said deity, if someone wanted to make a case of it).

    One atheist went to register to vote last year, and objected to the oath. He was told either sign it or don't vote, and wasn't allowed to cross out the portion of the vote requiring swearing to God. The FFRF filed a federal suit on his behalf, and Alabama, as a result, has since quickly changed it to allow a checkbox option for those who decline to swear to God.

    The oath to God is still there, which is absurd, but at least atheists and people of otehr faiths no longer have to technically break the law in order to vote.

    https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/...te-in-alabama/

    After filing a lawsuit, atheist in Alabama have successfully eliminated a religious test for voting.

    Here's the backstory: Until recently, if you wanted to register to vote in Alabama, you had to read and sign a declaration that included a religious reference:
    AlabamaOathVoter.png

    Some people may just ignore that, but let's be clear: That's a religious reference that has no business on any kind of voter registration form, much less in a declaration every person needs to sign in order to gain a right they already have.

    It's not just innocuous either. If you sign that statement without actually agreeing with what it says, it's perjury. That form even says that anyone who "falsely" signs the statement could be "convicted and imprisoned for up to five years." That means Alabama atheists who don't want to swear an oath to God are technically committing a crime by doing what they must in order to vote. Whether or not they would be prosecuted for it is besides the point.

    Last November, atheist Randal Cragun wanted to register to vote. But he couldn't honestly sign that declaration. So he contacted the office of the Secretary of State and asked for advice. They told him he had no alternatives: Sign the form or don't vote. He was also told, "If you cross out a portion [of the oath], the board of registrars in your county will reject the application and ask you to re-submit."

    "The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to state officials on Cragun's behalf, but they were told the same thing. There was no remedy. Unless lawmakers passed a bill to change the oath - good luck with that - nothing would change.

    So on behalf of Cragun and three other atheists in similar situations, FFRF filed a federal lawsuit against the state in October. They said in the complaint:

    The Secretary of State and the State of Alabama are coercing a statement of belief in a monotheistic deity by requiring nontheists to swear "so help me God" in order to register to vote.
    ...
    ...48 states in the United States do not require voters to swear "so help me God" in order to register to vote. The lone exception, North Dakota, does not require voters to register at all. Alabama is the only state that has voter registration forms that violate the rights of conscience of voters who are nontheists.
    All of this could be remedied, they said, if Alabama either gave atheists the exact same form without the religious wording or removed the unnecessary words from the oath altogether.

    Alabama fixed it a different way. The new version of the voter registration form includes a box that anyone can check off if they have a "sincerely held belief" that prevents them from agreeing to the words "so help me God."

    GodAlabamaOathFix.png

    An emergency motion to allow that option went into effect shortly after the last election, but now the checkbox will be on all future forms. It's not as good as changing the oath itself, but it at least fixes the legal problems.

    FFRF has voluntarily dismissed its own lawsuit as a result.

    FFRF's plaintiffs Chris Nelson and Heather Coleman (who are married) were able to register using the new form in March. Both of their registrations were accepted by the Shelby County Registrars. "We are glad that the state has - at least, begrudgingly - made some concessions to support state-church seperation, and that freethinkers in Alabama will continue to push for these reforms," they say.

    The other plaintiffs have expressed their appreciation for not being forced to pose as religious in order to exercise such a basic right.

    "Because of this suit I will finally be able to register to vote in Alabama," says Cragun. "It is disappointing that the state prevented me from voting in the 2020 elections, but I am looking forward to participating in the future, and I now have a better appreciation of the value my voice and other individual voices contribute to shaping the state."

    Adds co-plaintiff Robert Corker, "I am proud to have been a part of this effort to secularize voting in the state of Alabama. I relish more opportunities to foster inclusiveness for nonbelievers in this state."

    ...
    "The secretary of state was consciously discriminating against nonbelieving voters," says FFRF Senior Litigation Counsel Patrick Elliott. "We obtained our goal of ensuring equal voting rights."
    It's the right result for a battle we shouldn't have ahad to fight at all. It's absurd that atheists have to do all this work in order to get the state of Alabama to do the bare minimum. But even in a state that elects Christian Nationalists across the board, officials there have an obligation to keep the government secular.

    "So when you actually get the virus, you're going to start producing antibodies against multiple pieces of the virus. So, your antibodies are probably better at that point than the vaccination."
    - Pfizer Scientist Chris Croce

  • #2
    Fine by me. Just another example of an archaic law being removed from the books. I wish more of removal of useless and outdated laws was happening across the country.
    "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

    "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

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    • #3
      Just the sort of absurdity I've come to expect from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
      Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
      But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
      Than a fool in the eyes of God


      From "Fools Gold" by Petra

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
        Just the sort of absurdity I've come to expect from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
        What, precisely, is absurd about it? Why should an atheist like myself have to technically break the law in order to exercise their right to vote, due to an archaic state religious test? This ain't a theocracy bud.
        "So when you actually get the virus, you're going to start producing antibodies against multiple pieces of the virus. So, your antibodies are probably better at that point than the vaccination."
        - Pfizer Scientist Chris Croce

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Gondwanaland View Post

          What, precisely, is absurd about it? Why should an atheist like myself have to technically break the law in order to exercise their right to vote, due to an archaic state religious test? This ain't a theocracy bud.
          It's much ado about nothing. Do you also refuse to use currency that bears the phrase "In God We Trust"?

          This non-controversy reminds me of people objecting to the Ten Commandments being displayed in courtrooms. As Jerry Falwell once said, "What are liberals afraid of? That someone might read them, take them to the heart, and become a better person?"
          Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
          But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
          Than a fool in the eyes of God


          From "Fools Gold" by Petra

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

            It's much ado about nothing. Do you also refuse to use currency that bears the phrase "In God We Trust"?
            I can't remember the last time I used paper currency. But I do think the phrase should be removed - there's no reason for it to be there and the only reason it is there is because of Cold War pettiness. However, using it does not necessitate me committing a crime. Unlike this.
            This non-controversy reminds me of people objecting to the Ten Commandments being displayed in courtrooms. As Jerry Falwell once said, "What are liberals afraid of? That someone might read them, take them to the heart, and become a better person?"
            You can't even come up with a decent analogy. This is nothing remotely like that - so long as other things are present from other religions or cultures, there's no serious issue wiht the presence of the ten commandmetns.

            This (you know, the topic of the thread) is something that was in place requiring atheists to either violate their freedom of religion and swear to a deity, not be able to vote, or commit a crime.
            "So when you actually get the virus, you're going to start producing antibodies against multiple pieces of the virus. So, your antibodies are probably better at that point than the vaccination."
            - Pfizer Scientist Chris Croce

            Comment


            • #7
              Instead of making a checkmark like that, wouldn't it be easier to just cut out the last 4 words? It would make it look less awkward. Or is this one of those things where it would require more "paperwork" to actually change the words of the voter declaration than to create the checkmark option so they just went with that because it was easier?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Terraceth View Post
                Instead of making a checkmark like that, wouldn't it be easier to just cut out the last 4 words? It would make it look less awkward. Or is this one of those things where it would require more "paperwork" to actually change the words of the voter declaration than to create the checkmark option so they just went with that because it was easier?
                You'd think so! I'm unsure if it was a bureaucratic thing that led to using it instead of cutting out the words, or if they felt there would be some sort of Christian backlash (either in the legislature/government, or among voters) if they cut them out.
                "So when you actually get the virus, you're going to start producing antibodies against multiple pieces of the virus. So, your antibodies are probably better at that point than the vaccination."
                - Pfizer Scientist Chris Croce

                Comment


                • #9
                  I personally don't see why it would be illegal to swear an oath to a deity I don't believe exists, but I'm glad those in Alabama no longer have to do so in order to vote.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gondwanaland View Post
                    Great to hear. It's incredible that this even still existed, but until this case, any atheist (and pretty much anyone who didn't believe in the Christian God, depending on how one looks at it) was required to swear an oath to 'God' in order to vote, and could technically be held guilty of perjury if they swore the oath and did so 'falsely' (which would apply to anyone that doesn't believe in said deity, if someone wanted to make a case of it).

                    One atheist went to register to vote last year, and objected to the oath. He was told either sign it or don't vote, and wasn't allowed to cross out the portion of the vote requiring swearing to God. The FFRF filed a federal suit on his behalf, and Alabama, as a result, has since quickly changed it to allow a checkbox option for those who decline to swear to God.

                    The oath to God is still there, which is absurd, but at least atheists and people of otehr faiths no longer have to technically break the law in order to vote.

                    https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/...te-in-alabama/
                    I should also note that beyond atheists and polytheists and others who don't believe in God, this also discriminated against some Christians, as there are plenty of Christians who do not believe in swearing an oath using God's name, swearing an oath to God, etc., (taking god's name in vain, violating Matt 5:24, etc., being reasons some view it as such)
                    Last edited by Gondwanaland; 10-24-2021, 07:45 PM.
                    "So when you actually get the virus, you're going to start producing antibodies against multiple pieces of the virus. So, your antibodies are probably better at that point than the vaccination."
                    - Pfizer Scientist Chris Croce

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Much as I generally despise the FFRF, I am fully with you and them on this issue. It's ridiculous that unconstitutional language was ever used.
                      Geislerminian Antinomian Kenotic Charispneumaticostal Gender Mutualist-Egalitarian.

                      Beige Nationalist.

                      "Everybody is somebody's heretic."

                      Social Justice is usually the opposite of actual justice.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                        Fine by me. Just another example of an archaic law being removed from the books. I wish more of removal of useless and outdated laws was happening across the country.
                        There are several books dedicated to listing some of the silliest and bizarre laws still in effect, like Vermont making clothes lines illegal and several states making it illegal to carry an ice cream cone in your back pocket (not sure who would want to).

                        I'm always still in trouble again

                        "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                        "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                        "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Gondwanaland View Post
                          You can't even come up with a decent analogy. This is nothing remotely like that - so long as other things are present from other religions or cultures, there's no serious issue wiht the presence of the ten commandmetns.
                          Tell that to the loonies from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

                          Originally posted by Gondwanaland View Post
                          This (you know, the topic of the thread) is something that was in place requiring atheists to either violate their freedom of religion and swear to a deity, not be able to vote, or commit a crime.
                          What does it matter to the atheist if he utters what is to him a meaningless phrase? He may as well be saying, "So help me Boba Fett," for all the significance it has. It's much ado about literally nothing as far as the atheist is concerned.
                          Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
                          But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
                          Than a fool in the eyes of God


                          From "Fools Gold" by Petra

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Gondwanaland View Post


                            You can't even come up with a decent analogy. This is nothing remotely like that - so long as other things are present from other religions or cultures, there's no serious issue wiht the presence of the ten commandmetns.
                            The facts aren't with you on this gond. Courts have been ordering displays of the 10 Commandments be removed after someone complained for decades, starting with schools in the 1980s and courthouses at the turn of this century. In fact, the SCOTUS decided in 2005 that two Kentucky courthouses had to remove them

                            I'm always still in trouble again

                            "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                            "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                            "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                              That's nice, H_A

                              What does it matter to the atheist if he utters what is to him a meaningless phrase? He may as well be saying, "So help me Boba Fett," for all the significance it has. It's much ado about literally nothing as far as the atheist is concerned.
                              It matters because I should not be unconstitutionally forced to pass a religious test in order to exercise my RIGHT TO VOTE, nor should I be required to technically commit a crime. Nor should Christians who are against swearing oaths due to their beliefs (there are many groups of Christians who view it as a violation of Matthew, taking God's name in vain, etc.) have to violate their beliefs in order to exercise their RIGHT TO VOTE.
                              "So when you actually get the virus, you're going to start producing antibodies against multiple pieces of the virus. So, your antibodies are probably better at that point than the vaccination."
                              - Pfizer Scientist Chris Croce

                              Comment

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