Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Only in Texas: A Republican Godliness Test

Care of an unnamed Texan infiltrator...

The Republican Party of Texas carries an interesting statement regarding judicial candidate Ben Franks:

Candidate for the Sixth Court of Appeals, Ben Franks, is reported to be a professed atheist and apparently believes the Bible is a “collection of myths.”

During debate over a plank in the State Democrat Platform, members of the Platform Committee debated dropping “God” from a sentence on the first page of the document. The plank stated: “we want a Texas where all people can fulfill their dreams and achieve their God-given potential.”

According to an article published in the El Paso Times, Ben Franks states: “I’m an atheist…”

All elected or appointed officials in Texas must take the oath prescribed by Art. XVI, Section 1(a) of the Texas Constitution:

"I, _____ , do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of _____ of the State of Texas, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State, so help me God."

Should Franks be elected in November, one would have to conclude that he will hold true to his out of touch “atheist” belief system and ignore the laws and Constitution of Texas. Mr. Franks is a personal injury trial lawyer practicing in Texarkana, Texas and is the Democrat nominee for the 6th Court of Appeals.
Source: Republican Party of Texas: "...So Help Me God."

The Ben Franks "Religion Card" issue has made the press. Mary Alice Robbins wrote an article describing his situation. According to Robbins, Franks is not an atheist.

But Franks says he has never professed to be an atheist and is not a member of any atheist organization. Franks says no one with the Republican Party ever asked him whether he professes to be an atheist. However, he says he's not surprised by the allegation.
Source: GOP Raises Religion in Court Race, Calling Democrat an Atheist

So... being an atheist is a bad thing in Texas. Go figure. In a newsletter mailed to Texas republicans, the issue of Frank's faith was center stage.

However, the state Republican Party questions whether Franks will uphold the law, stating in the newsletter: "Should Franks be elected in November, one would have to conclude that he will hold true to his out of touch 'atheist' belief system and ignore the laws and Constitution of Texas."
Source: GOP Raises Religion in Court Race, Calling Democrat an Atheist

The Republicans are playing dirty. Why am I not surprised? Playing on the stereotype of atheism and immorality, even in Texas, seems out of touch. Especially for the party and state that produced ethically challenged Tom Delay.

On an upbeat note, I found another unknown (to me anyway) Atheist blog, The Friendly Atheist, through a post on the Ben Franks story. I've added him to Mojoey's Atheist Blogroll.

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4 comments:

Gary McGath said...

I do wish that Franks had offered a firmer response, pointing out that whether they're inventing a story or not, the Texpublicans are trying to require a religious test for office and thus attacking the U.S. Constitution.

TXatheist said...

Gary,
The TX Constitution does require a religious test. It clearly states one must acknowledge a supreme being to hold public office.

The Ridger, FCD said...

I couldn't get a trackback to work, but I wanted you to know this post is in the Carnival of the Godless this time!

Anonymous said...

I would strongly suspect that Ben Franks never intended to run for public office when, in 2002 at a meeting of the platform committee for the Texas Democratic party, he said (during a discussion about whether to delete a reference to God from the platform) “I’m an atheist, (and) this does not bother me. I’m a pragmatist.” He now denies being an atheist. This leads one to one of the following conclusions: (1) he is an atheist — as he said — but he is now regrets his candid admission, (2) he was not an atheist when he said what he said (i.e., he lied in 2002), or (3) since he decided to run for office, he has now reformed and found God.