New Jersey man sues Secretary of State Tahesha Way over mandatory religious oath

James Tosone says he tried to run for public office several times but because he has no religious affiliation, he will not say or sign “so help me God.”

Lanette Espy

Oct 5, 2023, 1:03 PM

Updated 281 days ago

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A lawsuit was filed against Secretary of State Tahesha Way after a man claimed the state forces candidates for office to swear to a religious oath.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of James Tosone, a New Jersey resident, against Way's office for forcing public office candidates to swear a mandatory religious oath.
Tosone says he tried to run for public office several times but because he has no religious affiliation, he will not say or sign “so help me God.”
The secretary of state excludes New Jersey citizens from being placed on the ballot for elected office if they are unable to swear a religious oath, the complaint states.
The complaint also says Way is violating basic First Amendment freedoms by “unconstitutionally compelling” New Jersey citizens who want to run for public office to swear “so help me God” in violation of their conscience — or else forgo their constitutional right as citizens to seek public office.
The complaint says Tosone wants to ensure Way provides a candidate petition that allows citizens who are unable to swear the religious oath to be listed on the ballot for public office.


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