Zoë Gioja, Texas Tribune

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

In January, an atheist group will lobby the state Legislature to overturn an obscure clause in the Texas Constitution — one that says candidates for public office must believe in a higher power. The group is following in the litigious footsteps of the late Madalyn Murray O'Hair, who 30 years ago challenged the same provision as an attempt to establish a state religion.

In Article 1, Section 4, the Texas Constitution states: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.” 

In other words, the Constitution maintains freedom of religion, but appears to bar atheists from holding state office.