How many states make references to God (or variations of that word) in their constitutions?
I figured it’d be a handful. I had no idea the correct answer was every single one of them.
Analysis by the Pew Research Center notes that only four states reference God once. North Carolina, however, does it 10 times. And Massachusetts of all places beats everyone with 12 references to the Divine.
In addition to the 116 mentions of God, there are also 14 mentions of a Supreme or Sovereign Being, seven mentions of the “Creator,” three mentions of “providence,” four mentions of “divine” and 46 instances of the word “almighty.” While there are 32 mentions of the word “Lord,” all but one refer to “the year of our Lord” and so are not direct references to God. (Indeed, the U.S. Constitution also makes reference to “the year of our Lord.”) There also are seven mentions of the word “Christian.”
Context matters, of course. Not every reference means believes have a leg up under the law, but at the very least, they suggest a form of Christian privilege in the country. We also know there are seven states whose constitutions explicitly ban atheists from holding public office, even though those laws are unenforceable thanks to the U.S. Constitution.
Those constitutions aren’t going to change anytime soon, but it shows you how much work atheists have to do to overcome a social stigma that’s been around since the founding of our nation.