Judging the religious aspects of candidates: 2-26-19
February 26, 2019
Most American voters are -- or at least should be -- aware that the Constitution forbids any kind of religious test for people seeking federal elective or appointive office.
You can read about that in Article VI, clause 3: ". . .no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
But as this commentary in the Washington Examiner by the president, CEO, and chief counsel for First Liberty Institute asserts, sometimes that hasn't kept some officials from asking about the religious beliefs of people nominated for various positions in the federal government.
The author of the piece suggests that people in Senate confirmation hearings who are asked questions about their religion (as sometimes they are, unreasonably) respond this way: “Senator, I am unable to answer that question because its premise violates Article VI, clause 3, of the Constitution.”
Fair enough. But it seems to me that there is at least some room here for discussion.
For instance, I think voters analyzing candidates can ask this (and maybe only this) question of candidates about their faith commitments: "Can you tell us whether and how any religious commitment you have might directly or indirectly affect public policy?"
That strikes me as different from saying something like this: "Because you are a Methodist, I'd like to know what you believe and why."
Candidates for elective office or a nominee for appointive office may decide to bring up the question of their religion on their own, in which case reasonable questions about what they reveal strike me as fair.
But in no case should senators evaluating someone nominated for an office that requires Senate approval directly ask questions that violate the letter or spirit of Article VI, clause 3. If they're in doubt, better not to ask the question at all. That part of the Constitution, after all, is in there for a good reason -- ultimately to avoid a theocracy.
(I found the image you see here today here.)
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WHY THIS NEW RELIGION FAILS
This interesting Atlantic article describes a new American religion. For "the college-educated elite," especially men, it says, work has morphed "into a kind of religion, promising identity, transcendence and community. Call it workism." The problem with it -- as with any false religion -- is that in the end it doesn't satisfy. Of course it doesn't. It's not rooted in awe or wonder or any eternal values, like love.