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Survey: Most Americans Are Unaware There’s No Religious Test For Lawmakers

The Constitution provides for no religious tests to be necessary in order to serve in Congress. The president’s oath of office similarly doesn’t require any adherence to religious faith or recognition of a deity.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

But most Americans are apparently unaware that federal officials aren’t beholden to such rules.

A Pew Research Center study asked Americans to complete a survey demonstrating their knowledge of religious facts. The survey wanted to know what level of knowledge U.S. citizens had on various faiths, including Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, being atheist, and others.

Beyond discovering what people knew about religions, Pew also wanted to know if Americans understood that the U.S. Constitution does not have a religious test within it at all. It turns out, just a quarter of Americans knew that.

Twenty-seven percent of Americans understood that Article VI of the Constitution provides that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Meanwhile, 15 percent believed that the Constitution required officeholders to affirm all men are endowed with unalienable rights by their Creator; 12 percent thought that the Constitution required officeholders to swear in on a Bible; 13 percent said the Constitution was silent, or said nothing, on the topic; and 31 percent were unsure of what the Constitution required.

Though it’s a bit troubling to some that knowledge on this part of the Constitution is scarce, it is perhaps not entirely surprising. Many Americans, according to a survey conducted by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation last year, wouldn’t be able to pass a civics test on our nation’s government, per reporting from NBC News. According to that organization, only 36 percent would be able to do so.



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