The presidency – not reserved for Christians 122

Cal Thomas writes with good sense at Townhall:

The Constitution is specific when it prohibits a “religious test” for “any office or public trust” — Article VI, Paragraph III.

That doesn’t mean that voters are prohibited from taking a person’s faith (or lack thereof) into account when deciding for whom they will vote. No law could stop them.

Past elections have been decided when some Catholics voted for a Catholic politician because of their shared religion and Protestants voted against a Catholic because they did not share that faith.

Now come two Mormons — Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman — and two evangelical Christians — Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann. There is confusion and division within once nearly solid evangelical ranks over what to do. …

Does it really matter what faith a president or presidential candidate has, or should everyone, regardless of their religious background, focus on their competence to do the job?

Shouldn’t the question answer itself?

I would vote for a competent atheist who believed in issues I care about over the most conservative Christian or Orthodox Jew who lacks the experience, knowledge and vision to do a good job as president.

Orthodox Jew? There has never been a Jewish candidate for the presidency, orthodox or anything else. Which means that a fund of ability has gone untapped for the job. It would be interesting to see what would happen if, say, a secular Jew with widely popular political views were to stand. What might operate against him? Anti-semitism – ie the fact that he is a Jew even though not religious – or anti-atheism, or both?

Religion can and has been used as a distraction to dupe voters. Jimmy Carter made “born again” mainstream during the 1976 presidential campaign and many evangelicals voted for him on the basis of his declared faith. Yet Carter later revealed himself to be a standard liberal Democrat in virtually every category that mattered, from abortion and civil unions, to the economy, to weakening America’s defenses and image worldwide.

What about Barack Obama’s self-declared Christian faith? He attended the Chicago church of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose sermons frequently condemned America and contained what some took to be racial slurs [they were racial slurs – JB]. The president’s faith has not distinguished his positions on any issue that matters from that of a standard liberal Democratic secularist. If a candidate says faith is important, shouldn’t that faith take the person on a different path than what someone of little or no faith would propose? If not, what difference does faith make and why should it be of concern to voters?

It shouldn’t matter whether Mormons believe in baptizing the dead, what undergarments they wear, or that they believe God was once a man like us. Neither should it matter that an evangelical Christian believes in Armageddon, unless, of course, he (or she) wants to advance that day by dropping a nuclear bomb on our enemies, as Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to do to the West. Now THERE is someone who combines his religion with political power, which should scare us all.

The Bible, the guidebook for evangelicals, teaches that there are two kingdoms. Presidential candidates are running to head up a part of the earthly kingdom known as America. The job as head of the other Kingdom is taken. The duties and responsibilities of each should be kept separate.

The writer doesn’t speculate whether a self-declared atheist might stand a chance of even being nominated. To us, that is a most interesting question.