Tag Archives: Article VI

‘No religious test … ‘

How many times do I have to remind religious zealots about what Article VI of the U.S. Constitution says about how “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States”?

Don’t answer that. I’ll keep saying it for as long as it takes.

While skimming through the TV channels this evening I ventured onto a news channel and listened to a former football coach say that Joe Biden is a “Catholic in name only.” Lou Holtz, the former Notre Dame coach, was speaking on behalf of Donald Trump but then decided he knows what is in the heart of Joe Biden.

Yep, Coach Holtz went far beyond the Xs and Os of drawing a football play and straight into territory where he doesn’t belong.

Donald Trump has declared that Biden is “anti-God” and “anti-Bible.” The practicing Catholic would destroy our faith, according to a president who has no relationship with any religious faith.

I am going to circle back to what the Constitution instructs us. It is a secular document written by men who took great pains to keep religion far away from the government they were creating. Article VI is as crystal clear as it gets. No candidate for public office should be required to adhere to any religious faith.

Biden doesn’t run away from his Catholicism. He flaunts it. He carries Rosary beads. He smears ash on his forehead to commemorate Ash Wednesday every spring. He is free to do that. He would be free to not do it as well.

The Constitution doesn’t require us to attend any house of worship. If it did, well, Donald Trump wouldn’t qualify as a presidential candidate. You know what I mean?

So, for Lou Holtz to step into a religious thicket by hurling an epithet at a man of faith is reprehensible. Stick to talking football, coach. Take a look, too, at what the Constitution’s Article VI instructs us.

Christian, Muslim, Jew … so what?


Carl Paladino is a partisan hack who runs Republican nominee Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign in New York state.

He’s also spouting idiocy about the religious affiliation of the president of the United States, who he has labeled this week as a Muslim.

Barack Obama has said repeatedly that he is a devout Christian. I believe the president. I do not believe the idiotic rant of Paladino.

Trump Advisor Carl Paladino: There’s ‘No Doubt’ That Obama is a Muslim

OK, then. Now, let’s look at something in the U.S. Constitution.

If you’re a real, true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool conservative, you believe in what’s called a “strict constructionist” view of the Constitution. You choose to interpret as little as possible in the document, much like one might do with, say, the Holy Bible.

So, let’s open our copy of the Constitution and turn to Article VI. It covers several areas of government, such as debt, laws and treaties, the oath officeholders take to support the Constitution.

And, oh yes, it has a clause at the end of it pertaining to “no religious test.”

It states: ” … but no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Do you know what I take away from that passage in Article VI? It means to me that an officeholder or a candidate for public office can worship any religion he or she chooses. It doesn’t matter what faith they worship.

Article VI lays it out there with crystal clarity.

That’s in a perfect world. I realize we don’t live in a world of perfection. It is soiled a good bit by those who choose to ignore constitutional tenets that fail to meet their world view.

Carl Paladino chooses, therefore, to declare in public that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, as if that’s supposed to label him as someone evil, sinister … anti-American.

I’ll make an admission: I am not as faithful to my own interpretation of the Constitution. Some constitutional tenets I take literally; I choose to interpret other tenets a bit more broadly. If you’re honest with yourself, you might be wiling to admit to doing the same thing yourself.

The “no religious test” clause of Article VI is one that — in my view — should be understood clearly and without equivocation. The framers knew exactly what they were doing when they expressly prohibited a “religious test.” They wanted to create a secular government run without specific religious influences.

My optimism runs eternal. Therefore, I’ll keep hoping for as long as I’m walking on this good Earth that one day we can apply that constitutional principle cleanly and without fear and suspicion.

Once again: Constitution is a secular document


Tom DeLay knows his audience and he speaks their language.

In this case, the former U.S. House majority leader was speaking a couple of years ago on a religious program hosted by John Hagee Ministries.

If only, though, he would speak accurately about the very founding of this great republic.

Host Matt Hagee asked DeLay where he thought the nation had gone wrong. DeLay’s response was, shall we say, more than little off the mark.


“I think we got off the track when we allowed our government to become a secular government,” DeLay explained. “When we stopped realizing that God created this nation, that he wrote the Constitution, that it’s based on biblical principles.”

Well …

Where do we begin?

We’ve had a “secular government” since its very founding. The Constitution — as I’ve noted in this blog before — contains precisely two religious references. That would be in Article VI, which declares that there should be “no religious test” for anyone seeking election to public office; and in the First Amendment, where the founders declared there would be “no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

That’s it, folks.

The founders knew precisely what they were doing when they omitted any other religious references in the Constitution. They intended for the government to be free of religious pressure or coercion.

I happen to be totally OK with that.

DeLay, though, sought to parse the Constitution differently when he told the Hagee Ministries audience about how God “wrote the Constitution.”

This gets to the debate that continues to this day. Indeed, it’s been going on virtually since the United States of America emerged from its revolution.

The Rawstory item showed up on my Facebook feed today I suppose as a reminder that this national debate likely never will go away.

Can’t we just accept the notion that the founders built a government framework that would be free of religion, but which allowed each of us to worship as we see fit?

That happens to be — in my humble view — one of the true-blue beauties of a secular government.

Yes, Mr. Justice, ‘religious neutrality’ is in the Constitution


I am about to do something that gives me the heebie-jeebies. I am going to challenge a premise by one of the nine people who serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justice Antonin Scalia told a group of high school students this weekend in New Orleans that the U.S. Constitution does not compel “religious neutrality.”

Well, Mr. Justice, I believe it does.

Scalia, a deeply religious Roman Catholic, told the students that the Constitution prohibits government from adhering to a specific religion, but it does not compel government to ban references to religion in general.

He said it’s all right for government officials to invoke God in public.

Sure it is. Presidents of both parties have been ending public speeches for as long as I can remember — and that goes back a ways — with the words ” . . .  and may God bless the United States of America.”

But I have been reading the Constitution since I was old enough to read anything and I can find precisely two uses of the word “religion” or “religious” in that document. It’s in Article VI, where it says there shall be “no religious test” required of any individual seeking any public office at any level in the United States of America; and it’s also in the very First Amendment, where it says Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . ”

The rest of it is secular by design.

I agree with Justice Scalia that “God has been good to us” as a nation. But he seems to be getting a bit ahead of himself when he implies that “religious neutrality” seems intended to deprive Americans the right — or the desire — to worship as they see fit.

The individuals who founded this nation knew exactly what they were doing when they created the Constitution. They meant for it to be free of religious dogma. Yes, some have taken that intent too far by suggesting that we should remove “In God We Trust” from courtroom walls or from our currency.

However, I happen to quite comfortable with “religious neutrality” as it relates to our government.

I’m still free to go to church and pray to God. I will do so again today.


Faith should be off limits on the campaign trail


I keep coming back to a simple phrase in the U.S. Constitution.

Article VI says there will be “no religious test” for anyone seeking public office.

Isn’t that clear? As in crystal clear?

Why, then, is Donald Trump injecting faith in the Republican Party’s presidential primary campaign by questioning whether one of his opponents, Ben Carson, worships outside the mainstream?

Trump proclaimed the other day he is a Presbyterian. “I’m Presbyterian. Boy, that’s down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about. I just don’t know about.”

Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist.

How does this guy get away with saying these things about his political adversaries?

A candidate’s faith is supposed to be off the table. The Constitution — the document that politicians, Democrat and Republican and alike say they revere — lays it out there in stark terms. There must be “no religious test.”

Trump, though, flouts his professed respect for the Constitution while questioning whether another candidate’s faith is mainstream enough to suit the voters both men are courting as they fight for their party’s presidential nomination.

What’s more … the guy is getting away with it!

God help us …


Muslims, Christians … whatever

Image #: 21630241 Dr. Benjamin Carson, director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, speaks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, March 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEALTH) REUTERS /JONATHAN ERNST /LANDOV

Ben Carson now has weighed in on the matter of religion and politics.

The good doctor’s take: Americans shouldn’t elect a Muslim as president, apparently because he believes the faith isn’t compatible with the U.S. Constitution.

Carson weighs in

I’m trying to find where in the Constitution it speaks to its compatibility with any religion. The only thing I can determine is that the Constitution — the finished document — is expressly non-religious. It doesn’t condone any religion. Not Christianity, or Judaism, not Islam, not Buddhist, Hindu or Shinto.

Surely, Dr. Carson — one of 16 individuals seeking the Republican presidential nomination — knows this. Doesn’t he?

It’s neutral. Get it? The only reference I can find even to the word “religion” is in Article VI, where it declares “no religious test” shall be given to anyone seeking public office anywhere in the United States of America.

How about we not talk about whether one’s religious faith qualifies — or disqualifies — him or her from serving a nation that comprises people of many faiths?


A ‘Christian nation’? Never have been one

I heard it said over the weekend that “we aren’t a Christian nation … anymore.”

It took me aback.

We’ve been hearing a lot of that of late, particularly in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling that state bans on gay marriage violated the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment and the “equal protection clause” contained within it. Therefore, gay marriage should be made legal in all the states, the court said.

Back to the point: Are we a Christian nation? Have we ever been one?

No and no.

I keep reading the U.S. Constitution and so help me, I cannot find the word “Christian” anywhere in it. Some of my friends on the right keep asserting that if the Constitution doesn’t say something specifically, then it’s not germane to a constitutional discussion. A former colleague of mine keeps asserting, for instance, that the Constitution doesn’t even mention “marriage,” but it does mention “the right to keep and bear arms.” That’s his way of affirming that the Second Amendment’s literal verbiage carries weight over the court’s broader interpretation of what’s allowed and what’s prohibited.

I am quite aware of the argument that the founders were driven by religious principles. I remain undecided, though, on the issue of whether they were devout believers in Jesus Christ, as some have asserted, or whether they were deists who believed in a more ecumenical God, or supreme being or “higher power.”

I also am quite aware that after considerable debate at the constitutional convention that produced our governing framework that they produced a document that is devoid of religious references … except for one mention. It says — in Article VI, Paragraph 3 — that there shall be “no religious test” for anyone seeking public office.

The founders’ immediate forebears fled Europe to escape religious persecution and to be free of state-mandated religion. That’s why they wrote a Constitution that spells out quite clearly that this would be a secular nation, governed by laws written by fallible human beings.

A Christian nation? Well, we’re a nation comprising citizens who are mostly Christian. They remain free to worship as they please. So are non-Christians, just as it’s always been since the beginning of this great republic.

God bless America.