Atheists are second class citizens in Arkansas. They cannot hold public office or stand trial says an old law which is still on the books. Surprisingly, this law was never challenged as being unconstitutional. 1928 was the last time someone was denied their rights under this law.
A law in Arkansas, which dates back to 1874, states that, "no person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of the state nor be competent to stand trial." This law still stands. In theory, this law could prevent someone from running for local office or testifying in court if they are atheists.
Is It Constitutional
Arkansas should delete the law because it is in clear violation of the First Amendment which states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Deciding not to practice religion is still a religious choice--protected under the Constitution. Federal law always trumps state law.
Has The Law Been Used
KARK TV reports in 1928 Charles Smith was denied the right to testify on his own behalf because he was an atheist. This is the most recent incident. It is time to get this law off of the books. The law is an embarrassment to Arkansas. It's shocking that laws like this still exist.