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Candidates should take religion off the table

Date: 2/27/2012

February 27, 2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

Does the Constitution actually mean anything to you? Or is it simply a handy buzzword to flash in a political discussion?

The words of Article Six are simple enough: "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

It refers to the fact that no candidate for federal office has to pass any religious requirement for the office.

Religion is essentially off the table, as far as the Constitution is concerned. It's too bad that candidates — and voters — can't do it.

This is nothing new, of course. Many people thought Americans shouldn't have elected a Catholic, such as John Kennedy because he would be taking marching orders from the Pope.

History will show that wasn't the case.

Richard Nixon came from a Quaker background, yet he wasn't a pacifist.

Jimmy Carter was a church-going Sunday school teaching Christian who didn't serve alcohol at White House events. Despite his showing of faith, he was ridiculed by many as being weak and unsophisticated.

Despite having gone through the process of electing a president since 1789 have we learned anything? I guess not.

So why have so many issues of faith come up in this election — especially at a time when so many people are claiming to be Constitution conservatives? Shouldn't they know religion isn't supposed to be part of the process?

People question whether or not Mitt Romney is a Christian because he is a Mormon. I always thought Mormons were Christian because they believed in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

It doesn't matter, though. I don't care how Romney prays. I care about his record in Massachusetts and what he is saying he would do as president — that concerns me, not his faith.

Rick Santorum has been questioning President Obama's faith when it comes to the president's environmental record. Santorum said that Obama's stance on the environment was part of "some phony theology" that puts the needs of the planet before the needs of the humans living here.

Santorum, speaking at the Thanksgiving Family Forum last year, said that the civil law of the United States must mirror "God's law," and noted that because abortion is legal — which goes against God's law — there will always be unrest.

Does he want a theocracy? Do we want a theocracy?

Santorum can believe in anything he wants and I defend his right to believe and his right to express his opinion. His constant insertion of religion into the governing process worries me.

If candidates actually stick to issues, they appear to have a problem. I certainly don't think Obama has done a flawless job. He wasn't my candidate during the primary, but with 22 months of job growth, with signs the nation is recovering from the recession caused by policies from Republicans and Democrats alike, with the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, maybe, just maybe, we're seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm more than willing to acknowledge what he has done to improve conditions in this nation.

I think much of the discussion of religion is a distraction, a wedge issue to get people thinking about other topics.

Consider what might happen this summer: gasoline prices at $4 or more. Some people are already planting the seeds: war in Iran will send oil prices sky high.

Get ready for the talking heads to blame the president for gasoline prices.

CNNMoney reported in December of last year that America is "awash" with gasoline and is exporting it to other nations. Domestic consumption of gas is at its lowest rate since 2007, thanks to people cutting back and fuel efficient cars.

Refineries, the report said, still have the capacity to turn more crude into gas.

So, tell me why gasoline prices aren't going down because of decreased domestic demand. Remember how gas companies used to compete for your business?

Now that is a real issue that would interest me. How about you?


I received a letter from a reader, who apparently didn't want me to publish it, condemning me for using the world "killer" as an adjective to describe the upcoming Congressional race in my last column.

It seems in light of the attack last year on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords I'm not allowed to use such a word, according to him.

Please forward me a list of additional words I'm not allowed to use, excluding the usual unacceptable curses and racial and sexual terms.

I'm also a hypocrite as well, according to the reader, because I supposedly criticized Sarah Palin with the following part of a column I wrote in January of last year: "The fact that Gov. Sarah Palin had used a crosshairs denoting defeating Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during the November election hasn't been lost on her critics nor has her language about 'reloading' during the election.

"Now Palin has issued statement through a video posted on her Facebook page that included, 'Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.'

"And so it goes on. We lurch from one angry moment to the next one, but do we talk about solutions as much as we do about what enrages us?"

Now that was somehow a slam at Palin. Really?

To quote the late Sonny Bono: "The beat goes on."

Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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