RUTH SHIREY: A religion test for presidency?
The United States is a country that guarantees freedom of religion in the First Amendment to the Constitution. By the time the amendments were adopted in the late 18th century, there were already many types of Christians in the U.S., including Roman Catholics. There were also Jews. There were also many religious groups among Native and African Americans.
The U.S. had a diverse population religiously from the Colonial period on and continues to do so. Creating a tolerant situation for all of these religious groups had a high priority among the founders in order to foster a peaceful situation in contrast to the religious conflict in Europe over the previous several hundred years.
The United States has never been a Christians-only country. To suggest that the U.S. should have a religion test for presidential candidates does not square with the history of the country, especially a country that now includes adherents of all the world’s major religions.
Let me emphasize that President Obama is a Christian. His family is Christian. Yes, he did resign from his Chicago church, but I know from the church magazine that I’ve been reading for 60 years that he attended other churches following that resignation.
Barack Obama is president. As president, he is in a position to influence the direction of care for the poor and not so poor through food, health care, education and other programs — manifestations of Christ-like behavior in the public arena. He also has obligations to safeguard the economy and the security of the United States.
President Obama has been blocked at many turns as he pursues safety and security for all Americans, not just the poor. I think we know who has been blocking his progress. I think we also know who the commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces is. The commander-in-chief ordered the operations that took out Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders targeting the U.S.
I do not think we need a religion test for presidential candidates. I think the idea is antithetical to who we are as Americans.
Better that we work together for the benefit of all Americans by electing a president who has sufficient leadership, ability to learn and knowledge to benefit the many segments of the U.S. population.