In A.D. 1961, the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Torcaso v Watkins. The case hinged on the right of a man who had otherwise qualified for the office of Notary Public in “Maryland” to assume that office without first confessing (as required by the Maryland Constitution) that he believed in God. The man was an atheist and refused to falsely confess that he believed in God when, in fact, he did not. More, he contended that the requirement for a confession of a belief in God was an unconstitutional “religious test”.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the atheist as struck down the requirement that public officers had to affirm their belief in God as a prerequisite for holding public office.
The Torcaso case is probably most famous for a footnote which declares,
“Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others.”
With that footnote, the Supreme Court elevated “Secular Humanism” and other atheistic philosophies to the status of “religions“.