Recently someone I know on Facebook posted the following meme. At first, I wanted to call them ugly names and lob obscenities at them. After a little cooling off I decided to use it as a teaching moment.
After the person posted the meme a discussion followed in which the poster stated:
“but does it not say in the constitution that Muslim are not aloud [sic] to keep office or was it the declaration vant [sic] remember will have to look that one up again. Plus I’ve had someone else on here state this fact to. Just not sure who right now. But if ur an American citizen they should swear on the bible and stand in front of the American flag.”
Okay, here’s what the Constitution demands. First, there is no religious qualifier for public office in America. Religious affiliation or non-affiliation can’t be considered for elected office or public employment. Article VI, section 3 states, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”
Furthermore, the Constitution does not require the placing of a hand on a Christian Bible. There is no requirement to use any book during the swearing in. All that is required is the affirming of this oath, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
While the meme poster opines that people who are not Christian or willing to stand in front of a flag should not be permitted office, the Constitution opposes their opinions. The First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In everyday language, that means that the government cannot declare one religion to be superior to another. There can be no official religion and government cannot deny people the right to believe or not believe in a god.
The clause also says that the government cannot say how believers or non-believers should practice their religions, free exercise. If one Christian sect wants to baptize by putting a wet washcloth on one’s forehead and another wants a full dunk in a cheek, they’re free to do as they see fit.
America has been by majority a Christian nation but the framers didn’t want the government to play a part in that. Most Americans today claim to still be Christians yet participation in religious services has experienced a significant decline.
Religion plays less a factor in people’s lives than maybe it ever has. Yet that is the choice of the individual and not the government.
Finally, if you want to use the Constitution to support or backup your opinions at least read and study the damned thing. Don’t throw your ignorance at the world, It doesn’t serve you well and being ignorant doesn’t serve the betterment of the nation well.
If you should actually decide to read the document here’s a good online source from Cornell Law School.