Laser Like FOCUS on JOBS: Arizona Republicans Propose Bill That Would Not Allow Atheists to Graduate High School
A group of Arizona politicians — all Republicans, of course — have proposed a law (House Bill 2467) requiring public high school students to recite the following oath in order to graduate:
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.
To quote Comedy Central’s Ilya Gerner: ‘Nothing says ‘I take this obligation freely’ quite like a state law that withholds your diploma unless you swear an oath.’
Kevin Bondelli adds:
… graduating high school is not the same thing as voluntarily accepting the responsibility of a public office or admission to the legal bar. A high school diploma is, with extremely few exceptions, required to have a chance to live above the poverty level. It is the culmination of an education that up until that point was compulsory.
***Update***: While the bill still includes the God language, Think Progress reports that it may be revised:
As written, the bill does not exempt atheist students or those of different faiths from the requirement, though Thorpe has pledged to amend the measure. “In that we had a tight deadline for dropping our bills, I was not able to update the language,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Arizona Republic. “Even though I want to encourage all of our students to understand and respect our Constitution and constitutional form of government, I do not want to create a requirement that students or parents may feel uncomfortable with.”
So it’s possible alternative language may solve the atheist problem, but *requiring* students to take the oath still poses a host of constitutional issues. Another option would be to make the oath optional, but that would make this bill completely irrelevant.