An atheist has been elected to City Council in Asheville, N.C.,
and the Christians are coming out of the woodwork to challenge
the legality of it, citing the N.C. Constitution. Sound familiar? Yes,
we had a similar case in S.C. years ago when College of Charleston
mathematics professor Herb Silverman was barred from holding
office due to a similar clause in the S.C. constitution. With a little
help from the ACLU, Silverman got that absurd piece of law overturned
and I suspect Mr. Bothwell will do the same very easily in N.C. By the
way, Silverman is quoted in this AP story. Check it out at
RALEIGH, N.C. — Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell believes in ending the death penalty, conserving water and reforming government - but he doesn't believe in God. His political opponents say that's a sin that makes him unworthy of serving in office, and they've got the North Carolina Constitution on their side.
Bothwell's detractors are threatening to take the city to court for swearing him in, even though the state's antiquated requirement that officeholders believe in God is unenforceable because it violates the U.S. Consititution.
"The question of whether or not God exists is not particularly interesting to me and it's certainly not relevant to public office," the recently elected 59-year-old said.
Bothwell ran this fall on a platform that also included limiting the height of downtown buildings and saving trees in the city's core, views that appealed to voters in the liberal-leaning community at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains. When Bothwell was sworn into office on Monday, he used an alternative oath that doesn't require officials to swear on a Bible or reference "Almighty God."