Republican lawmakers have proposed a bill that would require seniors to pledge an oath to God before they are allowed to graduate. The National Atheist Party objects to this interpretation of the Constitution.
A group of Republican State Representatives in Arizona have proposed a bill that would require all high school seniors to swear an oath of allegiance, which invokes the name of God, before they would be permitted to graduate. House Bill 2467 details the proposal that once all course requirements and standardized testing requirements are met, the oath would be the final condition for graduation.
The oath reads as follows:
I, ___, DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR THAT I WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC, THAT I WILL BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME; THAT I TAKE THIS OBLIGATION FREELY, WITHOUT ANY MENTAL RESERVATION OR PURPOSE OF EVASION; AND THAT I WILL WELL AND FAITHFULLY DISCHARGE THESE DUTIES; SO HELP ME GOD.
“This bill is absurd,” said Troy Boyle, President of The National Atheist Party. “This is how Arizona lawmakers are spending their time improving their education system. Not to mention that this bill was apparently written by elected officials with both no understanding of the US Constitution or respect for their constituent’s intelligence.”
“First, if this is a requirement for graduation from high school, and no diploma will be awarded otherwise, this oath is not “taken freely” as it proclaims. Second, supporting the Constitution of the United States means supporting what is actually written within our nation’s guiding document. In swearing an oath to the state, invoking the name of God is a direct violation of the US Constitution’s Establishment Clause contained within the First Amendment. Anyone requiring that this oath be read by a high school senior would be violating that student’s constitutional rights.”
The representatives in question, all Republicans, are Sonny Borrelli, Carl Seel, T.J. Shope, Steve Smith, Bob Thorpe, Chester Crandell, Jeff Dial, and David Livingston.
Boyle went on to say that these representatives were “not representing the students of Arizona, the taxpayers of Arizona, members of religions other than Christianity, Atheists and Agnostics, or anyone involved in the Arizona education system. They are solely representing a religious agenda of indoctrination, and have once again made the state of Arizona out to be a laughing stock in the national media. How dare they hold a high school senior’s diploma for ransom in this fashion?”
The National Atheist Party promotes the position that religious beliefs belong in believers’ homes, and not in publicly funded schools. The NAP also wishes to stop what it believes are hidden faith-based organizations who are going into our schools and advocating behavior from a religious perspective while actively hiding their religious affiliations, in order to get around laws prohibiting them from doing so. The NAP does not wish to stop anyone from practicing their respective religion, rather, they only move to reinforce the wall between church and state which was erected by our founding fathers -- a wall that Arizona state reps appear to have no respect for.
The NAP would like to invite the authors of this bill to please read the Constitution before they embarrass themselves in this fashion again in the future.
The National Atheist Party is a non-profit, 527 political organization devoted to issue advocacy and guided by the values of secular humanism and evidenced-based reasoning. The party seeks to politically represent U.S. atheists and all who share the goal of a secular government by gathering the political strength of secularists nationwide. To learn more about the party, visit www.usanap.org.
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