Maybe it’s just me, but this whole thing about religion really bugs me. My whole attitude towards other peoples imposition on my beliefs was born in my youth, when I still belonged to the Christian faith, and my denomination was decidedly in the minority both in physical presence and in general beliefs. In my younger and angrier days, I would have – and did – argued with anybody about the virtues of what I had been taught. There was little room for opposing beliefs, let alone similar beliefs. And looking back at it all these years later, I am both sad and happy. Sad because potential friendships – of which I already had very few – were ruined. Happy because it taught me a lesson that I have carried with me for a long time.
That lesson is simple: there are no religious tests. Period.
Not in life, not in friendships, not in relationships and certainly not in government.
But like so many things, the very people who most loudly crow about being tolerant and believing in freedoms are the very people who most attack others over their beliefs.
It’s happened before. Al Smith was once a viable candidate for President of the United States. He supported the repeal of prohibition and was strong on individual liberty. He was also Roman Catholic. John F. Kennedy would end up winning the Presidency, but not before he had to take time out from the campaign and remind everybody that his religious beliefs did not extend to his governing ideals. Mitt Romney was whispered about. Judges have been attacked.
Now, with the campaign not even officially underway, the Candidates for 2020 are already sniping at each other over… religion.
When I raised my hand and swore my oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, there was something that I did not do. and I assure you that if I am ever elected to public office or appointed to a public trust, I will do the same thing I didn’t do before again.
Because that is what “no religious tests” means.
Back in 1960, the State of Maryland, which has a long history of religious tolerance, found itself the defendant in a lawsuit against its requirement that a public officer confesses a belief in G-d and eternal judgment. From its founding in 1634, Maryland had always prided itself on tolerating religious beliefs across the spectrum.
The problem is, that tolerating religious beliefs didn’t leave much room for those who weren’t of the same or at least similar Christian beliefs…
Breaking both the timeline and the 4th Wall, the debate of religion and government in the United States has taken on a new and particularly partisan tone in recent days, as the Nation tries to decide what to do about the Syrian Refugee problem. Oddly enough, the debate has taken on religious tone, as some say that “as Christians” we must accept the refugees, while others say that we must not. Scripture is quoted to both support and defy the idea of bringing in the refugees.
But as Dave so often says, people do not change. The do the same things for the same reasons usually with the same results, throughout history. Indeed, as we have already seen, they even have the same arguments.
As the debate over debate the ratification of the Constitution continued, one of the ideals bubbled to the surface – religion, and the lack thereof in the proposed Constitution, came to the front and center. But you might be surprised as to who was on which side of things, and why. And how it shows that all these centuries later, we are still debating the same questions as those who debated the Ratification of the Constitution.