Despite your claim that it is inappropriate for a candidate to indicate his faith preference, a candidate’s statement of his foundational presuppositions is a helpful indicator for voters of a candidate’s governing values. We should encourage not suppress a candidate’s identification or description of the fundamental values that inform his or her public policy decisions. The fact that his values may be more or less attractive to some segments of the population is insufficient reason to inhibit this disclosure.
Let’s not beg the question by saying that we want to know his foundational governing values, but not his religious values. These are philosophically indistinguishable. Everyone has a system to determine what it true, what is real, what is good. Normally this system is called religion, but some anti-theists don’t like the term. Ok, you don’t like “religion”; pick “worldview”, “ethical system” or something similar.
You are right that in America there may be no religious test to hold an office, but foundational religious-like values are inescapable. The Constitution does not require irreligious candidates any more than religious candidates.
We should encourage candidates to disclose rather than conceal their foundational beliefs. This information should empower rather than disenfranchise voters as you imply.
The Nov. 27 article, “Politics Shines Light on old Prejudices,” which recounted how the centuries-long animus against Mormons in the U.S. has re-erupted is a sad commentary. But the article is even sadder for the prejudice it omitted: Apparently, non-Christians no longer matter in America.
The naked hostility toward Muslims since 9/11 has been well-documented, and Judaeophobia, masked thinly as opposition to the existence of Israel, also has been increasing. Except for a few egregious exceptions, no candidate has proclaimed an anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish or anti-atheist agenda. However, they and many of their supporters apparently feel empowered to willfully violate Article VI of the Constitution, which says, in part: “…[N]o religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
A couple of weeks ago in Des Moines, six of the candidates tumbled over each other in attesting how Christian faith was a sine qua non for holding the highest office and public trust in a nation purposefully established without a state religion. Even Democrats, including President Obama, feel compelled to proclaim their Christianity the way they feel compelled to wear American flag pins on their lapels.
Where does that leave America’s estimated 5.2 million Jews, 2.6 million Muslims and 50 million who have not affiliated with any religious tradition? Are they not qualified to lead America? Or even be Americans?
We can debate endlessly whether the Mormon church is Christian or not. What we never should be debating is why those who would aspire to be president of all Americans are determined to ignore so many.
— Ira Lacher, Des Moines