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Atheists battle laws still on the books in 7 states banning non-believers from public office

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Despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1961, saying states may not maintain a “religious test” for holding public office, seven states still have laws on the books banning atheists and non-believers from serving.

According to the New York Times, people who do not believe in God are ineligible to hold office in Maryland, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Representatives from Openly Secular — a coalition representing atheists, agnostics, humanists, and nonreligious people — are currently meeting with legislators in those states, seeking to overturn the outdated and Constitutionally impermissible laws.

According to Openly Secular’s chairman, Todd Stiefel, the laws shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone.

“If it was on the books that Jews couldn’t hold public office, or that African-Americans or women couldn’t vote, that would be a no-brainer, ” Stiefel said. “You’d have politicians falling all over themselves to try to get it repealed. Even if it was still unenforceable, it would still be disgraceful and be removed. So why are we different?”

According to Mississippi’s Constitution, “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.” In North Carolina the state Constitution reads, “The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

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Even in Pennsylvania — which has no specific law banning non-believers — the Constitution states that no one can be “disqualified” from serving in office on the basis of religion, but with the caveat that office holders should believe in God “and a future state of rewards and punishments,” considered to mean heaven or hell.

Addressing the existence of the laws still on the books,  Ira C. Lupu, an emeritus professor at George Washington University Law School who specializes in church-and-state issues, said, “Of course they shouldn’t be in there. They’re all unconstitutional. They can’t be enforced.”

Although rarely invoked, attempts to use the laws bubble up from time to time.

In 2009,  Cecil Bothwell — who describes himself as a “post-theist” — won election to the Asheville City Council in North Carolina, only to have his opponents cite the law while attempting  to deny him his seat. The challenge was eventually dropped.

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For groups like Openly Secular, the battle they face is finding politicians with the political will to take on the outdated laws in a country where, according to a Pew Poll, nearly half of Americans would disapprove of a family member marrying an atheist.

Jamie B. Raskin, a professor of constitutional law at American University and majority whip in the Maryland State Senate, called the laws “an obsolete but lingering insult to people.”

“In the breathtaking pluralism of American religious and social life, politicians have to pay attention to secularists just the same as everybody else,” Mr. Raskin said. “If a Mormon can run for president and Muslims can demand official school holidays, surely the secularists can ask the states for some basic constitutional manners.”

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‘White woman problems’: Twitter stomps ‘lifestyle guru’ after she goes berserk over checkout glitch at Target

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A self-described "lifestyle guru" and TV host is coming under fire after she raged on Twitter about problems purchasing items at Target.

In a tweet on Saturday, Meaghan Mooney demanded Target "make good" after she was not able to immediately purchase a cart filled with goods.

"I just filled my l cart w/ hundreds of $ of merch I need TODAY, but REGISTERS ARE DOWN GLOBALLY???" Mooney wrote. "And NOW after I begging your staff to put my items on hold, I only have till EOD?? 1 inconvenience after the next. How will you be making good w us consumers?!"

Hey @Target — I just filled my l cart w/ hundreds of $ of merch I need TODAY, but REGISTERS ARE DOWN GLOBALLY??? And NOW after I begging your staff to put my items on hold, I only have till EOD?? 1 inconvenience after the next. How will you be making good w us consumers?! #Target pic.twitter.com/4KQTtdNv0M

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MSNBC guest ridicules Trump-fan Steve Cortes as possible Sarah Sanders replacement: ‘He’s a nut — have you seen him on TV?’

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Discussing the departure of Donald Trump's spokesperson Sarah Sanders from the White House, an MSNBC panel surveyed her possible replacements with one ridiculed for his appearances on TV defending the president.

Speaking with "AM Joy" fill-in host Jonathan Capehart, The Beat DC editor Tiffany Cross shot former Trump associate Stever Cortes -- a regular on CNN -- down as a possible candidate.

"There are names that are out there," Capehart suggested. "[Meliania Trump spokesperson] Stephanie Grisham and Hogan Gidley and Steve Cortes."

Pointing out that Grisham is the most likely contender, and the Trump would probably prefer a woman, Cross called out Cortes for his TV appearances.

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2020 Election

Can at least half the 2020 Democrats please quit right now?

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OK, Democrats — you’ve had your fun. You grew up being told that everybody could run for president, and then everybody did. Except that this mad anthill scramble of presidential candidates, which resembles a bunch of kindergarteners descending on not enough cookies, really hasn’t been fun so far. All you’ve managed to do is put the fear of God — or the fear of the other guy, more like — into the voters, provoking widespread PTSD flashbacks to November 2016.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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