When Ben Carson was asked by Chuck Todd whether a president’s faith should matter to voters, Carson did not give the politically correct answer and was criticized by many. Here is what he said:
“I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it is inconsistent with the values and principles of America then of course it should matter,” Carson said. “But if it fits within the realm of America and is consistent with the Constitution then I have no problem.”
The question then shifted: “Is Islam consistent with the Constitution?” Carson answered: “No, I don’t think it is. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that” On the other hand, Carson had no personal problem with a Muslim running for Congress if “they say things in life that have been consistent with things that will elevate this nation and make it possible for everybody to succeed and bring peace and harmony”.
Senator Lindsey Graham called on Carson to “apologize”: Graham was wrong to do so.
Carly Fiorina said Carson was “wrong … there is no religious test for office”: She too was wrong to criticize Carson since Carson did not contest the Constitution.
Senator Ted Cruz pointed said there is “no constitutional litmus test on faith”: This was not a criticism of Carson and he was absolutely correct to point this out.
The “No Religious Test Clause” of the United States Constitution is found in Article VI, paragraph 3, and states that: “… no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”. Constitutionally we cannot place a religious litmus test on candidates who run and Muslims have every right to enter their names on ballots. Any individual however including Ben Carson can advocate and use whatever criteria they like in determining who they vote for. Carson was not suggesting a Muslim not be allowed to run and in no sense was he contradicting the Constitution.
Now we come to the substance of the question: Should beliefs and moral codes held by a candidate for high public office matter? Of course they matter. Logic alone tell us that our beliefs affect what we do and what a high public office holder “does” affects the lives of citizens and helps direct the course of nation.
Most faiths, such as Christianity and Judaism seek only improve the individual and only affect society in a secondary sense. The Founders said “religion” (as defined by the scriptures) was essential to the health of “the republic”. They were echoing a principle God gave Israel that only “wise and knowledgeable” men should be selected as leaders (Deut. 1:13) Of course, the source for their “wisdom and knowledge” should be His word, not the wisdom of the world. God later instructed Israel “you may not set a stranger over you who is not your brother” (Deut. 17:15) Applying this principle to America, a “stranger” would be one who is alien to the fundamental principles upon which this country is founded.
The Islamic faith also focuses on the individual, but unlike Christianity, seeks also to directly influence the laws and public affairs of a nation. It does this to the extent it embraces Sharia law. Since Sharia law takes away many rights of the individual guaranteed to them by the Constitution, Sharia law contradicts the founding principles of this country. It denies freedom of religion and speech. Women in particular are denied their rights. All Muslim countries are to some degree influenced by Sharia law, some radically, others less so. Muslim immigrants in Europe often seek to impose Sharia principles contrary to long held customs in areas they dominate.
Christian candidates often are challenged to explain how their faith would guide their public duties. How a Muslim candidate for high office in America views Sharia law would must also be a relevant question, and I would argue, far more so. Why? Christian principles are not fundamentally hostile to American freedoms and pose little threat. Sharia principles however are fundamentally hostile as noted above. A president who secretly sympathizes with Islamic principles expressed in Sharia law, and is influenced by them, can inflict tremendous harm upon American culture and our future.
It behooves candidates like Carly Fiorino and Graham to know the Constitution better, since one day they might need to uphold it. They should not pander to the demands of “political correctness”, itself a restriction on free speech. My post on ReasonRoad entitled “Is Truth the New Hate Speech” discusses political correctness further.