In every presidential election cycle, we are treated to politicians extolling their own religious beliefs and questioning the religious beliefs of their opponents. Our pandering governor just did this with the cartoon character Donald Trump.
Undoubtedly at some point in these debates, candidates will be asked about their belief in the inerrancy of the Bible (as they were in the last election debates) or about other aspects of their religious beliefs. Religious belief has become an informal litmus test for public office or candidacy, especially in the Republican Party.
Republicans have over the years questioned the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s religious beliefs and have cast aspersions on their colleagues for not being religious enough. Mitt Romney’s Mormonism was questioned by evangelical politicians. These are the same folks, along with their tea party supporters, who tell us how enamored they are with the language of the Constitution and how much they support the Constitution.
Many claim that the U.S. is a Christian nation and distort history to prove this point. Article 6 of the United States Constitution, however, provides that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” That’s right, that is what it states.
Of course, the language can be read to relate only to formal tests. But the use of religion as an informal litmus test for public office certainly violates the spirit and intent of Article 6.
Michael T. Tusa Jr.