December 16, 2009

Atheist Heroes: Cecil Bothwell

51oAJQ3VxsL._SL160_.jpgWe all know that the U.S. Constitution prohibits the use of religious tests for public office even though a handful of state constitutions still include such provisions. Why state legislatures would not be interested in bringing their state constitutions in line with federal requirements is beyond me, but those of us who ask are usually told that it does not matter because those provisions of state constitutions cannot be enforced. It appears that this will soon be put to the test in North Carolina.

Atheist Cecil Bothwell was elected to the city council in Asheville, NC. However, he now faces a challenge from assorted anti-atheist bigots who argue that North Carolina's constitution explicitly disqualifies him from office simply because he lacks god-belief.
Opponents of Cecil Bothwell are seizing on that law to argue he should not be seated as a City Council member today, even though federal courts have ruled religious tests for public office are unlawful under the U.S. Constitution.
I am not sure why it isn't obvious to everyone involved that the U.S. Constitution takes priority over North Carolina's constitution in this case.

I applaud Bothwell's election, and I think it is great that he's showing no signs of backing down.
Fliers mailed before the election criticized Bothwell over his atheism and his book, “The Prince of War,” which denounces evangelist and Montreat resident the Rev. Billy Graham for pushing what Bothwell says is a theocratic agenda.
Clearly, we need more people like Cecil Bothwell in office. It doesn't even bother me that he evidently denied being "an avowed atheist," largely because I have little idea what that even means. What matters is that he is on the record saying that he does not believe in any sort of deity.