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Notary Bulletin

Bank Notary Accused Of Refusing Request From Atheist

AtheismThe head of a group called American Atheists claims that an employee of a bank in Cranford, New Jersey, refused to notarize several documents for personal reasons, according to statements from the organization.

In general, Notaries are impartial witnesses who should not let personal beliefs interfere with their duties. In fact, the first Guiding Principle of The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibilitystates: “The Notary shall, as a government officer and public servant, serve all of the public in an honest, fair and unbiased manner.”

The incident occurred last week when American Atheists’ Managing Director Amanda Knief and President David Silverman sought the services of a Notary at the bank. The group had used Notary services at the bank several times previously without incident.

The Notary asked Knief about the organization, then declined to notarize the documents saying that she was “allowed to refuse for personal reasons,” according to the group’s statements. Instead, the employee got another bank Notary to fulfill their request.

In a statement to local media, the bank said the incident was a matter of miscommunication.

A number of states prohibit Notaries from refusing to perform any lawful notarization request, but New Jersey is not one of them.

When notarizing a document, the Notary is not endorsing the contents of the document, but only verifying the identity of the signer.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.

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