“Neither a state nor the Federal Government can… force [a person] to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. – Justice Black, Torcaso v. Watkins (1961)
The Connecticut Constitution requires that General Assembly members swear an oath to God to serve. Yet, the U.S.Constitution prohibits such religious test for a public office.
Further there are 21 oaths for various officials and civic duties in the law. All but six of these do not require a person express non-belief. In those six, non-believers are forced to choose between lying (i.e. pretending to be religious and taking the standard oath) or exposing themselves as being non-religious and requesting a “special” alternate oath. Clearly against Justice Black’s opinion delivered a half-century ago.
It is past the time, that the Connecticut Constitution and Connecticut law provide all the rights required by the U.S. Constitution.
Connecticut’s 1st Senator and Supreme Court Justice Referenced in Torcaso v. Watkins
In one of his famous letters of “a Landholder,” published in December 1787, Oliver Ellsworth, a member of the Federal Constitutional Convention and later Chief Justice of this Court, included among his strong arguments against religious test oaths the following statement:
“In short, test-laws are utterly ineffectual: they are no security at all; because men of loose principles will, by an external compliance, evade them. If they exclude any persons, it will be honest men, men of principle, who will rather suffer an injury, than act contrary to the dictates of their consciences. . . .“ Quoted in Ford, Essays on the Constitution of the United States, 170. See also 4 Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, 193.