Just a few days ago I wrote an article slamming Ben Carson for his asinine view that a Muslim should not be president of the United States and that the values of Islam are incompatible with our Constitution. The irony here, of course, is that Carson’s very views are inconsistent with our Constitution, which expressly prohibits a religious test for president (or any federal office).
But on Monday night Carson actually said something I agree with. While on Fox News, he stated, “I don’t care what religion or faith someone belongs to if they’re willing to subjugate that to the American way and to our Constitution.”
He even said he would support a Muslim American seeking office if the person “clearly will swear to place our Constitution above their religion.”
I couldn’t agree more with Carson. And I say that as a Muslim American. If a Muslim candidate for office were to advocate imposing Islamic law in America or revising our Constitution to agree with the Quran, I would be the first one to loudly oppose that person.
But I also feel strongly the same test should apply to all candidates of any faith. After all, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who put her religious beliefs over the U.S. Constitution, was not Muslim.
John F. Kennedy, a man I greatly admire, espoused a similar view when running for president in 1960 when he was subject to vile religious bigotry for being Catholic. Like Carson is now saying about Muslims, in 1960 some on the right claimed that Roman Catholicism was “incompatible with the principles” of our nation and that Kennedy was not truly loyal to America simply because of his faith.
In response, Kennedy gave a famous speech in 1960 before a group of Protestant ministers in Houston to address these allegations head on. There, Kennedy said that “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.” Adding, “I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation, nor imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.”
Kennedy did, in essence, what Carson advocated Monday: He swore “to place our Constitution above” his religious beliefs. And I believe it’s now time for the GOP presidential field to do the same. (The Democrats as well but let’s be honest, the religion talk comes from the Republican presidential field.)
So in accordance with the “Carson doctrine,” at the next GOP debate, all the presidential candidates should be asked if they would expressly pledge to place our Constitution above their religious beliefs. Yes, I know some will try to squirm there way out of it saying things like “America was founded on Christian values and that is my faith” or “America is a Christian nation and I’m a Christian so there won’t be a problem.”
Not so quick. If any candidate refuses to make this pledge, follow-up questions must be asked. We, as a nation, need to know specifically which of their respective religious beliefs they view as superior to our Constitution. Here are a few proposed questions:
1. In the Bible it says that “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” Do you agree or reject that principle?
2. If a woman is not a virgin on her wedding night, would you support the men of the town stoning her to death as expressly mandated by the Bible?
3. We have heard American pastors called for killing gays for “for their abominable deed” as it’s described in the Bible. Is that something you reject or agree with?
4. If a woman is raped in the city but does not cry out for help, would you stone the woman to death to “purge the evil from your midst” or reject that and instead follow our Constitution?
5. Do you believe in death for those who commit blasphemy as required by the Bible?
We can even ask about modern-day issues such as if a bill was put in front of you to ban all abortions, would you sign it, imposing your religious believes upon all Americans, or follow the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade?
Don’t we need to know which passages they would follow if elected president and which they would reject? And yes, I know that many of the above passages are from the Old Testament and some Christians will claim that they don’t follow that book—except when some cite it to demonize gays, of course.
Well, I’m far from a theologian but Revs. Billy and Franklin Graham are. Billy believes that Christians mistakenly ignore the Old Testament when in fact God gave “the whole Bible to us.” And his son Franklin has echoed that very sentiment with his words, “I believe the Bible from cover to cover. I believe the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament.”
But even before the next debate, we know some would fail the Carson test. For example, Mike Huckabee has stated that conservatives cannot accept “ungodly” court rulings on gay marriage and abortion. He has even urged that we need “to amend the Constitution” to agree with the Bible.
But the jury is still out on the rest, including Carson himself. Isn’t it time we know if these candidates will place the U.S. Constitution over the religious beliefs or are they more beholden to the Biblical passages listed above? I, for one, very much want to know the answer to that question.