Cecil Bothwell ran one of the only successful political campaigns ever by an openly atheist candidate.
Fort Bragg’s MASH chapter will be hosting a speech by Cecil Bothwell on May 6th at 6:00 PM.
In November 2009 he was elected to Asheville, North Carolina’s City Council. Despite last-minute low-blows and political muck-raking, he rightfully earned his seat. The controversy just got deeper from that point, however.
Bothwell was elected on November 3, 2009, to the city council after he won the third highest number of votes in the city election. Following the election, opponents of Bothwell, including H. K. Edgerton, a former president of the Asheville NAACP, challenged his election because the North Carolina Constitution does not allow for atheists to hold public office in the state. Law experts argued the provision was invalid because the United States Constitution prevents religious tests for public office.The Supreme Court of the United States held in Torcaso v. Watkins (1961) that such provisions violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
That description completely glosses over the fact that H.K. Edgerton is completely insane. When I last saw Cecil speak, he expounded on this interesting twist in the storyline. Despite his previous leadership in the NAACP, Edgerton spends his free time dressed as a Confederate Soldier, waving the Confederate Flag. He is known for freaking out the tourists that frequent Asheville, and pretty much everyone considers him to be a ‘troll’.
That’s who led the fight against the legitimacy of Cecil Bothwell’s election, in an unwinnable (by every account) court case. This is a man who has fought for civil rights for minorities all of his career, but still couldn’t see over the religious bigotry ingrained in him. Also, he is clearly on some crazy pills.
Cecil Bothwell recently announced that he will be running for US Representative for NC’s 11th district. He expects to have a tough fight, but is confident in his ability to ouster fellow Democrat, Heath Shuler. Many constituents are unhappy with Shuler’s apparent status as a Blue Dog Democrat.
Bothwell is the author of ‘The Prince of War: Billy Graham’s Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire‘ - Instantly making him a welcome ally in North Carolina’s secular community that’s for sure.
This speaking engagement at the Fort Bragg MASH chapter signals our growth. We have rapidly achieved a new level of legitimacy all in a few months. The awkward birthing pains are all but over, as we emerge into the secular community with several organizations helping us stand up. Many of the local groups surrounding our MASH chapter have reached out to us, such as the Triangle Freethought Society. There is an effort to coordinate a regular rotation of speakers, and several how-to’s and guides are being written for all of the other MASH chapters as they sprout in our wake.
If you live anywhere near a military base, you should join or start a MASH group, too. The national MASH organization will help you establish monthly speaking events, book clubs, and of course on-post support from the Chaplaincy.