No Religious Test

The No Religious Test Clause of the United States Constitution is found in Article VI, Paragraph 3, and states that:”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.”

A variety of Test Acts were instituted in England in the 17th and 18th centuries. Their main purpose was to exclude anyone not a member of the Church of England from holding government office, notably Catholics and Dissenters (Protestants). Government officials were required to swear oaths, such as the Oath of Supremacy, that the Monarch of England was the head of the Church and that they possessed no other foreign loyalties, such as to the Pope. Later acts required officials to disavow transubstantiation and the veneration of saints.

Many colonists of the Thirteen Colonies had left England in part to gain a measure of religious freedom. With the royal government’s religious favoritism fresh in their memory, the Founders sought to prevent the return of the Test Acts by adding this clause to the Constitution.

Recently, Willard Mitt Romney has received the nomination from the Republican Party as our candidate for the President of the United States of America.

Robert Jeffress, the evangelical pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas, said Mitt Romney is not a Christian and Mormonism is a cult, after introducing Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit Friday.

Whether one believes that Mormonism is a cult and that Mormons are not Christians, this is a moot point under the United States Constitution, Article VI, Paragraph 3.

I describe myself as a Messianic Jew. However, you can rest assured that I will vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Davis Ryan come election day. There are many pastors urging Evangelical Christians to not vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. This is very foolish. A vote for Barack Hussein Obama II and Joseph Robinette “Joe” Biden, Jr. is a vote against Christian and Jewish fundamentals. A vote for a third-party candidate or abstaining from voting is also a vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

This is far from the first time a presidential candidate has been forced to defend his religion. John F. Kennedy was scrutinized for being a Roman Catholic. In 1960 he made the following speech.

Neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test, even by indirection. For if they disagree with that safeguard, they should be openly working to repeal it.

Contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for President.

I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic.

I do not speak for my church on public matters; and the church does not speak for me. Whatever issue may come before me as President, if I should be elected, on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject, I will make my decision in accordance with these views — in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be in the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressure or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.

But if the time should ever come — and I do not concede any conflict to be remotely possible — when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do likewise.

But I do not intend to apologize for these views to my critics of either Catholic or Protestant faith; nor do I intend to disavow either my views or my church in order to win this election.

If I should lose on the real issues, I shall return to my seat in the Senate, satisfied that I’d tried my best and was fairly judged.

But if this election is decided on the basis that 40 million Americans lost their chance of being President on the day they were baptized, then it is the whole nation that will be the loser, in the eyes of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world, in the eyes of history, and in the eyes of our own people.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t vote for a candidate based on their religious beliefs. Don’t mistake that freedom for approval.  It is one thing to have the right to reject a candidate for their religious beliefs, it is another thing to do so.  It is sometimes helpful to focus not on the beliefs themselves, but the implications they have for how that person will govern.  How is a creationist likely to look upon federal spending on science, for example?  How about education? Beware those who would use the Constitution to protect themselves, while ignoring the provisions that protect you, the voter.  The Constitution is, afterall, an enormous compromise between competing interests.  Candidates who ignore portions of that compromise are a risk to the future of this country.

I would suggest that Christians look at all the candidates and examine their positions before making any decision. I would not suggest to anyone not to vote for a candidate because he was Mormon.

I would also look at a candidate’s stances on the issues more than anything else. I have heard a couple of so-called evangelical Christians say that they are pro-choice when it comes to abortion. I cannot understand for the life of me how an evangelical could have that stance, and I could not vote for that person.

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