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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.


Add your comment

David Moore

20 Apr 2015

As a notary, I will not decline to notarize any document based simply on religious beliefs. All men(people) are created equal. God is no respecter of persons and neither should we be.

Mel Wilke's

14 Aug 2015

I am a notary for a financial institution; I would notorize the signature with out predudice. I would not marry anyone that falls against my religious beliefes. There are plenty of notories that would, which is there choice. I became a notary before certain laws were passed.


01 Mar 2017

Yes, I am not yet a Notary, but was wondering if I could be put in a situation where I would b forced to notarize a document which goes against my Christian beliefs, such as a marriage certificate for homosexual individuals, or these days wouldn't even be surprised to see a document between a dominant and submissive to be notarized.

National Notary Association

01 Mar 2017

Hello. Part of a Notary's duty is to provide services to the public in a fair and unbiased manner. Article I-A-3 of The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility states, "The Notary shall not refuse to perform a lawful and proper notarial act because of the signer's race, nationality, ethnicity, citizenship, religion, politics, lifestyle, age, disability, gender or sexual orientation, or because of disagreement with the statements or purpose of a lawful document." If you feel that you cannot remain impartial due to personal beliefs, you may have issues serving as a Notary.

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