Obama And The No Religious Test Clause

Article 6, Section 3, of the Constitution of the United States of America states:

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.

Everyone is so caught up in the question of whether or not President Obama is a Christian or a Muslim, that no one seems to realize that the entire country, including the public, the media, and the government, is trampling on their own Constitution. President Obama has been subjected to a religious test.  Although not institutionalized as part of his formal admission to office, this test is equally offensive, and equally destructive to the country and the principles enshrined in its constitution.

As part of an ongoing campaign to represent President Obama as everything different, alien, and foreign, without coming right out and just saying that it’s all because he’s black, the President has been required to not only profess and prove what his religion is, he’s been required to profess and prove that he is a Christian.  Any talk of President Obama being a Muslim is treated as an accusation, as if to be so would make him guilty of something.

A clear definition of his religious beliefs have been demanded. An answer has been provided along with a description of his daily devotions and prayer practices. The sermons of his pastor have been analyzed, and criticized, and he has been held accountable for their content. The strength of his religious devotion has been challenged, and the honesty of his disclosure questioned.

The religious beliefs of his parents and grandparents have even been analyzed and turned into the topic of television ‘news’ specials. Their religious affiliations, denominations, and the regularity of their church attendance, have all been treated as a completely appropriate topic for public scrutiny. Not only is this President being tested on his own religious beliefs, but apparently on the religious beliefs of anyone he ever knew, or came in contact with.

National news outlets, both network and cable, have had the temerity to invite people on to assist in the judging of the religious beliefs of another, and individuals have actually agreed to do so. Franklin Graham agreed to publicly comment on the President’s faith, and took the opportunity to instruct the audience on what qualifiers to use as they judge the President’s faith for themselves. Mr. Graham, after referring to President Obama’s father having at one time been Muslim, went on to suggest that personal faith can be inherited. He stated that the ‘Muslim seed’ is passed through the father, as the ‘Jewish seed’ is passed through the mother, as though it were some sort of fact. CNN broadcast the interview.

The President’s religious beliefs, according to Article 6, section 3, of the Constitution, should not be put to a test. The President’s religious beliefs, according to the First Amendment to the Constitution, should not affect the judicious execution of his duties on behalf of all American citizens. Where the First Amendment makes it very clear that government should stay out of religion, preceding that, as part of the original Constitution, Article 6 makes it very clear that religion should stay out of government.

This religious test should never have been imposed. President Obama, and the White house, should never have been coerced into compliance. Subjecting the President, or any other politician, to this test directly contravenes Section 6 of the constitution. President Obama should not let his religious preference influence his presidency by allowing others to make it an issue. He is the President of the United States, not just of the Christians, or of the anti-Muslims, that are among those that live here.

Pollsters have repeatedly asked Americans different versions of similar questions. The goal of their queries are to find out who thinks Obama is a Christian, who thinks he’s a Muslim, and who doesn’t know. All of these questions are asking the respondent to judge the President’s religion; to test it and come to a conclusion. All of these questionnaires draw the Office of the President of the United States into a Christian vs Muslim debate.

All of the questionnaires that are circulating result in answers that send a very powerful message. Christian is the right answer, and Muslim is the wrong answer. This message is sent and reinforced simultaneously. The President professes Christianity, so, if this is your answer, you are correct. At the same time, by having the President profess adherence to one religion over the other, it makes that religion the ‘correct religion’ as well.

Whether or not the President is equitable to all religions, and acts without bias or preference, might be a good question to ask regarding a President who is bound by the Constitution, that he swore to uphold, to treat all religions as equitable, and without bias or preference. However, this is not the question that the Christian organizations behind much of the furor want answered. They don’t want to hear of equality and plurality. They want the President to be forced into looking like he is publicly siding with their team, regardless of whether or not they would ever truly accept him as one of their own.

Other questions, that are perhaps somewhat more Constitutionally friendly, to ask Americans that value their freedom of religion, and equal status under the law, might be;

Do you agree that your President’s personal religious preferences should not govern how he executes the duties of his office on behalf of all Americans, of all faiths and world views?

or perhaps,

Do you agree that the President, or any other representative of ‘all’ the people, should suspend official affiliations with religious institutions, as they would with corporate institutions, during their tenure in public office?

These questions would at least provide us with some information about how Americans view and understand their Constitution, rather than questions that only serve to aid in the violation of it. These questions could initiate discussions regarding all religions, their role in, and effect on, society and government, equally. It would be an inclusive conversation that doesn’t promote or demonstrate any religious preference. Questions that put one religion up against another, and call on the President to declare his preference, serve no purpose other than to divide.

This religious test must not be allowed to continue. The Constitution states clearly that it should never have started in the first place. The media must refuse to continue proctoring this exam, and, more importantly, the White House must refuse to submit.

The violation of this article of the Constitution is also a violation against the Office of the President of the United States. By adhering to this article of the Constitution, the integrity of the Office of the President is maintained at the same time that the integrity of the Constitution is maintained. In this case, the President can Protect the Constitution by allowing the Constitution to protect the Office of the President.

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3 Responses to Obama And The No Religious Test Clause

  1. Ronald W. Gumbs August 22, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Liam,

    The Republicans are just energizing their base with meaningless distractions, instead of offering solutions to the nation’s problems. Democrats need to stay focused on the economy and not take the bait. Unemployment is the Achilles Heel of the Democrats who must convince their base that they can decrease the unemployment rate by increasing the GDP.

  2. Beachbum August 23, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    I think the words of President Jefferson in 1803 would have been great council had they been heeded in time.

    “I am moreover averse to the communication of my religious tenets to the public; because it would countenance the presumption of those who have endeavored to draw them before that tribunal, and to seduce public opinion to erect itself into that inquisition over the rights of conscience, which the laws have so justly proscribed. It behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own. It behoves him, too, in his own case, to give no example of concession, betraying the common right of independent opinion, by answering questions of faith, which the laws have left between God & himself. ~ Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush (12 April 1803)

    And Liam, very good article; succinct yet profound in its comprehensiveness.

    • Liam Fox August 23, 2010 at 8:06 pm

      Thank you very much. Now, if only I could fit that quote in a tweet. : )

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