Bob Novak, a Jew turned Roman Catholic, has doubtless been himself subject to some “religious testing,” so I’ve no doubt he writes in his column today with sincerity about the difficulties Governor Mitt Romney (R) of Massachusetts may have should he run for the presidency.
Gov. Romney is a Mormon, and thus in the eyes of many of us Protestants, not a Christian. But, as Novak reminds us, the constitution makes a religious test for office unconstitutional. Specifically, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution concludes thusly:
no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States
Seems straightforward. Novak, however, notes that
The Republican whispering campaign against Mormons is broader — based on ridicule of the church’s doctrine. I have heard Republicans who have read the Book of Mormon express astonishment that any rational person could believe that.
I’ve read much of the Book of Mormon, it having been placed in every Marriott hotel I stayed in on my many trips around the country. And it is total hogwash, unsustainable by archaelogical or historical evidence. As is, of course, much of the Bible.
So, before we start throwing any stones at Mormons about what “any rational person” might believe, we need to remember that foundational beliefs for Trinitarian Christianity aren’t entirely rational. It is also worth noting that “faith” may be defined as “unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence.” Our faith is not any more provable than Romney’s.
Mitt Romney may have faith in things that you and I believe to be nonsense on stilts. There are also many misguided people who believe the same about Christianity. It is for this reason alone that our fondest hope should be if Romney does run, some of our brethren do not start to go all Torquemada on him because he does not believe as we do. Because, sooner or later, if we start making a religious test for office, it will, before long, hurt us.
If you think that a believing Mormon is not rational, then don’t vote for him. Given what I know (so far) about Mitt Romney’s beliefs and governance, I’d vote for him in a heartbeat long before I’d vote for most pro-abortion Democrats.
There will be a “testing” at the end, and God will, as we know, sort the goats from the sheep. In the here and now, we must remember that we are a nation of laws, guided by a Constitution that expressly prohibits any religious test for office.