Saturday, June 23, 2007

I Just Want to be Free

Why does the Pennsylvania State Constitution still have this very cramped view of religious freedom? (h/t Morbo at the Carpetbagger Report)

Section 4.

No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth.
In Pennsylvania only believers are guaranteed religious freedom. The rest of us, not so much. The fortunate thing is that a 1961 United States Supreme Court ruling (Torcaso v. Watkins) turned this section of our state constitution into the legal analog of an appendix.
“We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person ‘to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.’ Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against nonbelievers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.”

It no longer has a function, but certainly it may cause the body politic some pain. Therefore I think it would be wise, should there be a constitutional convention in Pennsylvania, to bring this section up to date. Extend religious freedom to all of us.

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