An Islamic President?
by Larry Perrault on September 23, 2015 at 9:55 AM
There has been much discussion of Dr. Ben Carson's statement in a Meet The Press interview with Chuck Todd that he would not support a Muslim candidate to be president of The United States. He had said he would support anyone who embraced American values and The Constitution. And later after the flutter his statement provoked, including the Council on American Islamic Relations’ call for Carson’s withdrawal, he referred back to that and said he took the next question about Islam to be about orthodox Islamic doctrine that does not permit of a separation of Islamic faith and state conduct. He specified that he also would not support a Christian that advocated a theocracy. In fact, Christian faith and coercion is self-contradictory.
The discussion usually, even in a statement from Ted Cruz, includes reference to Article VI, paragraph 3 of The U.S. Constitution that says there shall be no religious test for government office. When asked about the question of a Muslim as president, Cruz referred to this and said, "... and I am a constitutionalist..." Charles Krauthammer got more explicit, saying the founders were suggesting that even in personal conscience, there should not be a religious test. Really, it isn’t easy to say what that would mean; presumably advice, not duty.
Though I am equipped as a constitutionalist relative to Cruz only marginally more than I’m equipped as a doctor compared to Carson, maybe this was a shorthand answer. I am more constitutionally disposed than most, but Cruz is more constitutionally versed than almost everyone. There are many confessing Muslims in America who do not promote a political structure based on the Qur'an rather than The Constitution. So it's theoretically possible that I could support one for president, though it seems practically unlikely. Christian teaching is that all men are endowed with an inherent sense of right and wrong. And there are a lot of Muslims who embrace American ideals; I recall meeting one at a state Republican convention. Of course, a Muslim can compete for voters’ endorsement of their ambitions for the country. At bottom, the question is the same for anyone hopefully. Am I convinced the candidate is the best choice for my ideals for America?
I think Krauthammer was wrong about any concern of the founders to direct the individual conscience. Freedom was a bit of an issue, you may recall. And surely Cruz would agree that when they wrote that there should be no religious test, the restriction was intended like The Constitution generally, of government. Government was not to impose any religious test for government office. The individual conscience is free to impose any test it likes, however meticulous or frivolous, whether the candidate’s knowledge of and adherence to The Constitution or aspects of his appearance. I’d advise close attention to that remarkable and proven document. But the vote is yours: choose the most attractive or choose Do…never mind.