Article 6 of the Constitution is very clear about religious tests:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
While individual voters might have their own personal religious tests, once again it became clear why, as a country, we need to stop giving public airtime to Values Voter Summit, which is a buzzword for a religious litmus test. In fact, it all blew up this past weekend, when contrasting the religious beliefs of Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.
Robert Jeffress was unrepentant on Sunday after portraying Mormonism as a cult and urging Republicans to vote instead for “a Christian candidate”.
Jeffress was the clown who co-organized the Reliant Stadium prayer rally with Texas Governor, Rick Perry. The whole point of the Values Summit is to identify the most God-fearing candidate and, as such, the double-speak was rampant:
Perry’s campaign team, distancing itself in public from Jeffress, said the Texas governor did not regard Mormonism as a cult and did not judge people’s religion. “That is God’s job,” his campaign spokesman said.
The heart of the debate is between two cults, Evangelicalism and Mormonism. The UK newspaper, The Guardian, said it best:
Mormonism is detested by some American evangelicals because it is “not Christianity” – but perhaps more because it is the first, great, truly American religion. It is founded on claims that no outsider can take seriously, but validated by one of the greatest epics of the settlement of the west, and secured by prosperity and tithing.
Mormonism is clearly derived from Christianity: the book of Mormon is written in a god-awful pastiche of the prose of the authorised version of the Bible, and it was revealed to the world in 1830 in the most fervently pious region of a fervently Christian country.
In response to all the brouhaha, Newt Gingrich added this:
Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, told CBS on Sunday that no-one should judge another’s religion. “I thought it was very unwise and very inappropriate,” Gingrich said.
But, Newt, the problem was holding the Christian-led Voters Values Summit in the first place! The forum was designed to be a religious litmus test. Radio host Bryan Fischer made that clear:
Fischer, a director of the American Family Association who has made anti-Mormon comments in the past as well as attacking gay people and Muslims, spoke after Romney. He said: “The next president of the United States needs to be a man … of sincere, authentic, genuine Christian faith.”
Not only should no one judge another’s religion, no one should go to the Values Summit and the media should stop covering it! It has no place in the presidential politics.
In the most recent Congress survey, 6 out of 535 did not respond when asked about their religion. It is interesting to look that websites of some of those candidates (e.g., T Baldwin, J Olver), where, instead of false platitudes, they answer directly on issues of the day: Would I vote pro-choice or anti-choice, regardless of my personal views? Would I support universal health care? Should the death penalty be an option and in what kind of crimes? What should be our extended military role in the Middle East? Answers to these questions tell you much more about a candidate then simply a statement I am a Christian or I am an Atheist (1 out of 535, by the way).
That is exactly why we don’t have a religious test for presidency and why the media needs to ignore the Voters Value Summit.