I’ve always thought — or hoped, at least — that John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech in Houston settled the notion that a candidate’s religion should have no bearing on whether he could serve as president of the United States.
He told some Protestant clergy that the Vatican would not dictate to the Catholic candidate how he should govern, that he would swear to be faithful only to the U.S. Constitution.
Well, silly me. The issue is coming up again. The target this time is Dr. Ben Carson, the famed neurosurgeon whose faith is of the Seventh-day Adventist variety.
Donald Trump raised the issue the other day in typical tactless Trump fashion. Now comes a well-known lefty commentator, David Corn, editor of Mother Jones, to wonder aloud whether Carson’s faith would inform the way he would govern should he “take control of the government.”
This is a ridiculous debate.
First of all, presidents don’t control the government. We have this notion that power is spread among two other governmental branches — the courts and the Congress.
The Constitution says there should be “no religious test” for candidates seeking any public office. That includes the presidency.
Yes, Carson has brought up his own faith. He’s talked about how his faith would guide him. He hasn’t said he would toss the Constitution aside any more than then-Sen. Kennedy said he would more than five decades ago.
Corn is playing to voters’ fears when he says of Carson: “Now, he is running on the basis that he has faith. And I think it’s going to open, you know, a big can here. Because, you know, he does come from a church that believes in end times, prophesies, and he’s said he believes in the church’s teachings.”
A simple declarative question is in order: Dr. Carson, do you vow to uphold the law under the Constitution of the United States?
I believe he’s already pledged to do so.