HomeMost Popular on AATTPAtheists Won’t Be Allowed to Graduate from High School in Arizona if TEApublicans Get Their Way

Atheists Won’t Be Allowed to Graduate from High School in Arizona if TEApublicans Get Their Way

From AATTP contributor, Sky Palma

In another bizarre chapter of Arizona politics, it was reported this week that a new proposed law would require students to swear an oath to God (we’re assuming Judeo-Christian) and the Constitution — all as a requirement to graduate high school.

Already, issues of Constitutionality are being raised, since there are undoubtedly Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, atheists, and other demographics within the state’s public schools.

Blogger Kevin Bondelli points out an interesting irony in this debacle:

I am fairly certain requiring a public high school student to swear an oath to God to graduate would violate the First Amendment of the Constitution that they are trying to force these students to swear to support and defend. This paradoxically means that in order to actually support and defend the Constitution, you have to refuse to take this oath to support and defend the Constitution.

The politicians (all Republican and some freshman Tea Party members) behind the bill are Representatives Bob Thorpe, Sonny Borrelli, Carl Seel, T.J. Shope, Jeff Dial, David Livingston, Chester Crandell, and Steve Smith. As required under church-state separation, exemptions are made available should people not want to participate. But no such exemption exists with this legislation.

American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona Public Policy Director Anjali Abraham explained, “You can’t require students to attend school and then require them to either pledge allegiance to the flag or swear this loyalty oath in order to graduate. It’s a violation of the First Amendment.”

On the heels of two election cycles where Tea Party factions came to prominence spouting rhetoric that included the words “fascism” and “socialism”, it’s hard to ignore the historical relevance that loyalty oaths had in totalitarian regimes throughout history.


About Sky Palma

Sky Palma
Sky Palma lives in Los Angeles and has been writing about politics, current events and religion for over a decade. He's also the head editor and founder of deadstate.org.
  • Stephen Cramer

    Beyond the freedom of/from religion issues, has anybody realized that not all students in American high schools are American citizens or even want to be? Like, say, the adolescent children of my Korean, Turkish, and Chinese graduate students. Swear to protect and defend the Constitution of a foreign country? Absurd.

  • Amy

    Article 6 – Constituion

    “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

    All government officials, elected and appointed, must swear an oath to support the Constitution of the United States. However, that oath need not be religious in nature, and the government cannot require its officials to pass any test of religious affiliation to take office. The ban on religious tests was included to ensure that the US government would remain secular in nature. Also in Article 6 of the Constitution it states the Federal Law trumps all, period. We were never a Christian government and any attempt to force religion is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

    • Dorothy

      Thanks…this is insane…won’t hold muster in Fed courts…do I smell a suit???

  • DZ

    Beyond crazy.

    The “under God” clearly makes it unconstitutional, but even the idea of a loyalty oath in general is repulsive.

    No one should be forced to swear an oath of loyalty.

    It is already against the law to commit treason or espionage against the United States, so that is covered. But to insist on an ‘active’ defense violates a person’s human rights.

    Ironic considering how many actions and proposed laws of right-wing politicians (this includes a great many Democrats as well, including Obama) have eroded the Constitution. Warrantless wire taps, reading email, gerrymandering, trans-vaginal ultrasounds… I think most of these politicians would be in violation of the oath this proposes.

  • Sir Bravebeard of Reddithood

    This post is the bravest I’ve seen in all the land. I’m glad someone out there is reporting real bravery in news instead of the LIEble news like Faux Noose.

  • http://ResponsetoArizonaTeaParty Ann Hardesty

    I am not an athiest I believe in GOD ! BUT I believe we as Americans have the right, as the constitution states to our own beliefs. What has happened to tolerance? We have become a nation that I am ashamed of. People need to mind thier own buisness. Maybe there is not enough to keep people busy. I am referring to work. Prior to my retirement I worked with a new generation, that has no loyality, no compassion, and were very lazy, The almighty $ sign was all that was on thier mind. IDLE hands are dangerous hands. We are the greatist nation in the world but will not remain so without tolerance of all kinds of people . SUCK UP AND THINK ABOUT YOUR OWN FREEDOMS

    • Bob

      America was the greatest nation in the world and what made you guys so great (I don’t live in the US) was your freedom of religion and freedom of expression. But the more the Christian Right gets their way, the less freedom there seems to be. Look at some of the news reports coming out of Saudi Arabia, for example, a journalist/blogger who lives in Saudi Arabia was recently arrested by the government on charges of blasphemy (for expressing his views on Islam) and the government is debating whether they should execute him. This is what you end up when you mix church and state. If that’s the kind of country you want to live in then just keep doing what you’re doing.

  • David

    This affects not only the non-Christians, but also the non-Citizens who are graduating. Sure, this is meant as an affront to illegal aliens, but there are plenty of legal non-Citizens in schools as well. My daughter has dual citizenship – should she be forced to make a vow that excludes her other nationality?

  • Jonathan Spicer

    “When fascism comes to America it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a Bible” Only in ARYANZONA would something like this happen,Seig Heil Gov.Brewer!

    • SomeGamerKid

      The puns just make it worse. Seriously. It just sounds kinda stupid

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/HomleandSecurity Homleand

    Atheists shouldn’t be in America in the first place. The entire goal of our education system is to raise good, upstanding, Second Amendment loving Christians. If you can’t take a pledge to God, why should my tax money fund your education?

    • Travis

      This country was founded on religious freedom you bigot. There are plenty of athiest people’s taxes that fund these schools as well. I’m sure the Christian God would love people like you, who don’t have a tolerant bone in their body. Truly upstanding citizens.

    • stevef00

      Homeland….you are an idiot! This is just as much my country as it is yours, regardless of the fact that I don’t believe in an invisible sky being! To think that you have to believe in god in order to be good and upstanding is a moronic concept. Go back to the stone ages with your neanderthal thinking and leave everybody else alone!

      • Jason Jehosephat

        I assumed Homeland’s comment was meant as satire. If he was serious, what would his explanation be for all that math and science, and wouldn’t he have doubts based on the lack of shooting and gun care classes?

    • brian

      this post of yours.. it’s a joke right? i mean.. you are being sarcastic right??

    • David

      Homeland, one would assume that you are being satirical in tone, and not mean to be taken seriously. Please tell me if I am wrong.

    • Jake

      Well that was one of the most ignorant things I have read in a while. Considering most of your founding fathers were atheist, agnostic and deist not Christian.

    • Ronnielo

      I hope your kidding !!

    • Levanah

      We’ve all come to a pretty pathetic place when it’s not clear whether this post by Homeland is irony or bat-s***-SERIOUS! Verrrry scary stuff….

    • Mike Wyman

      Really…!? Really…!? Oh my gosh… took me a minute there, lol, but now I get your sarcasm… lmao, you had me for a sec… good one…!!

    • That Guy

      The amount of people that don’t recognize this as an extremely satirical post is depressing.

      • BG

        Poe’s law, man. Everyone wants someone to hate on.

    • http://N/A Aspen Troll

      Homeland must have listened to Geo. Bush Sr. He said atheists shouldn’t qualify as citizens. Both Homey, George and all the other Christian fundies are the reason the US is on its way out.

    • CJah

      The Constitution forbids the establishment of a state religion. This is not a Christian country, and the moment it becomes so, it ceases to be the United States of America. Freedom of religion includes the freedom to have no religion. Every atheist is a better citizen than you are because atheists aren’t forcing their beliefs down anyone’s throat.

    • Daffoltz

      I thought he was sarcastic until I went to his YouTube channel to get look at all of the bats–t insanity he’s been posting to YouTube. I thought that it was impossible for someone to be this much of a bl–hard. Burning the Origin of Species? Get a life, Homeland.

      • That Guy

        Looking at some of his other comments, I’m still convinced he’s a troll:
        “The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law.” Thus, Congress violates the Bill of Rights any time it passes a law.”
        “The only thing that can stop a bad guy rapist is a good guy rapist.”
        “If the indians actually cared about the land they lived on, they would have created a legal system with deeds and titles. If they had any form of self-respect they would have invented the technology to defend the land.”
        “The Bible is in English, so you must speak English!”
        “The poor have failed at life.”
        “It’s not socialism when the government helps the rich. That’s capitalism taking advantage of profit opportunities. It’s only socialism – and therefore bad – when the government helps the poor and middle class.”
        “It’s not torture if you’re American.”
        If he was truly that crazy, I don’t think he’d be able to form a coherent sentence.

  • Drew M

    This is the very definition of Fascism… these people ARE the Taliban.

  • Jimmy Ballenger

    Isn’t that the oath of enlistment for military service? I’m sure I’ve said this oath a few times in my life. Completely voluntarily of course. The fact that they are trying to make it a requirement for high school graduation, God or no God, means that there is no way the students could be taking the oath “freely” as it would then be “imposed” upon them by the state. Thus nullifying the oath all together.

    • Dave Lindsey

      I don’t think the “So help me God” part of the Oath of Enlistment is required if you are an atheist or conscientiously object to that phrase.

      • Megabitch

        I’m Wiccan and I did not say that when I enlisted and swore to support and defend the Constitutuion.

    • Michael Brew

      You can either swear or affirm, and if you affirm you do not say the “so help me God” part. Swearing to God is still the default, however, and you can’t indicate your preference on your actual paperwork (I learned from personal experience, and was rather cross about it), and the religious wording strongly implies only the Abrahamic god, thus excluding other religions who might want to swear on something else altogether, so even then it’s a bit shady. There’s nothing necessarily unconstitutional about taking an oath of loyalty to this country as a requirement for participation in a government program, as far as I know, though I would still be wary of it due to the fascist history of such mandatory oaths.

  • Perry

    You can’t spell crazy without R-AZ.

    • AATTP


    • brian

      LOL perfect!!

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