Religious Tests for Public Office Are Unacceptable. Period.

I’ve been doing numerous pondering currently in regards to the fascinating women and men of America’s founding technology. I wish to share with you certainly one of their tales.

Jonas Phillips was a penniless Jewish immigrant, an indentured servant, a hardworking businessman, and an American patriot who served within the Philadelphia Militia through the Revolutionary War. During the British occupation of New York, he snuck messages previous the censors by writing in Yiddish.

Years later, Phillips addressed a letter to George Washington and the delegates on the Constitutional Convention.

He urged them to not embody a spiritual check within the Constitution as a requirement for public service, as a result of no man, he wrote, needs to be “disadvantaged or abridged of any civil proper as a citizen on account of his spiritual sentiments.”

Phillips wrote this letter as a result of Pennsylvania, the state the place he lived, required officers to swear that the New Testament was impressed by God. As a trustworthy Jew, Jonas Phillips couldn’t try this.

“By the above regulation,” he wrote, “a Jew is disadvantaged of holding any public workplace or place of presidency.”

Thankfully, Phillips’ letter—his prayer—was answered. Days earlier, the conference had voted unanimously to ban spiritual exams for federal workplace.

The language the Framers inserted into the Constitution was unequivocal: “No spiritual check shall ever be required as a qualification to any workplace or public belief beneath the United States.”

When the Founders wrote “ever,” they meant it.

I really feel the necessity to stress this level due to the alarming conduct of a few of my colleagues.

[On Wednesday], Notre Dame regulation professor Amy Coney Barrett got here earlier than the Senate Judiciary Committee. She had been nominated to be a circuit courtroom decide. Her nomination has been endorsed by outstanding authorized students from throughout the political spectrum, together with Neal Katyal, President Barack Obama’s performing solicitor basic.

Nonetheless, at Ms. Barrett’s affirmation listening to quite a lot of my Democratic colleagues insinuated that her Catholic religion would stop her from making use of the regulation freely and pretty.

“Dogma and regulation are two various things,” remarked certainly one of my colleagues. “When you learn your speeches, the conclusion one attracts is that the dogma lives loudly inside you. And that’s a priority.”

Another of my colleagues even requested Ms. Barrett to admit her religion beneath oath.

“What’s an ‘orthodox Catholic’?” this committee member requested. “Do you contemplate your self an ‘orthodox Catholic’?”

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If these remarks had been some kind of weird aberration, I may need handed over them in well mannered silence.

But I really feel compelled to talk out as a result of I see a sample rising. A sample of hostility towards individuals of religion who come earlier than this body.

Just a number of months in the past, one other eminently certified nominee, Russell Vought, appeared earlier than the Budget Committee to be thought-about for a put up on the Office of Management and Budget.

One of my Senate colleagues used his time to query the nominee, not about administration or budgets, however about his evangelical Christian beliefs.

“In your judgment,” requested this senator, “do you suppose that people who find themselves not Christians are going to be condemned?”

Mr. Vought defined that he was an evangelical Christian and adhered to these beliefs.

But that wasn’t adequate for his questioner, who later acknowledged he would vote towards Mr. Vought’s nomination as a result of he was not “what this nation is meant to be about.”

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These unusual inquisitions don’t have anything to do with the nominees’ competency, patriotism, or potential to serve Americans of various faiths equally.

In truth, they’ve little to do with this life in any respect. Instead, they must do with the afterlife. To my information, the [Office of Management and Budget] and the seventh Circuit haven’t any jurisdiction over that.

This nation is split sufficient. Millions of Americans really feel that Washington, D.C., and the dominant tradition despise them.

And how might they not, once they see their leaders sitting right here, grilling patriotic residents about their religion like inquisitors? How might they not really feel like their values will not be welcome on this chamber?

Religious freedom is of deep concern to me as a Mormon. My church has weathered extraordinary spiritual persecution, a lot of it sponsored by the federal government.

The first Latter Day Saints had been exiled from house after house. In 1838, the governor of Missouri ordered that Mormons be pushed from the land or “exterminated.”

Our first chief, Joseph Smith, as soon as stated, “the civil Justice of the Peace … ought to punish guilt however by no means suppress the liberty of the soul.”

That, in fact, was earlier than he was martyred by a bigoted mob.

Our nation’s ban on spiritual exams is a robust bulwark for spiritual freedom. As an unique provision of the Constitution, it predates even the Bill of Rights—and it applies not simply to some spiritual adherents, however to all of them, equally.

The spiritual exams raised towards Mr. Vought and Ms. Barrett don’t favor one sect of Christianity over one other, as was sadly widespread for a lot of our nation’s historical past.

Rather, they favor the secular, progressive creed clung to so confidently by the nation’s ruling elites. This creed has its personal clerics, its personal dogmas, and, as these nominees have found, it has its personal heresies, too.

More and extra, the adherents of this creed search to make use of the facility of presidency to steamroll disfavored teams—particularly dissenters from their political dogmas.

So they drive evangelical caterers to bake muffins celebrating same-sex marriages, as within the case that’s earlier than the Supreme Court now. And they drive nuns to buy contraceptive protection. And sue spiritual hospitals that gained’t carry out abortions or sex-reassignment surgical procedures.

Yes, the secular, progressive creed has confirmed that it’s able to triumphalism and intolerance, identical to the creeds which have gone earlier than it. Not as a result of its adherents are uniquely depraved. To the opposite—as a result of they’re human.

There is a means out of this vicious cycle of non secular intolerance, Mr. President.

And that’s for all of us to deal with each other with civility and respect, whereas jealously defending the rights of conscience—for ourselves, our neighbors, and all our fellow residents. For Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, and all others

This body can do its half by supporting laws just like the First Amendment Defense Act and the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, which might shield individuals who have conscience objections to latest cultural adjustments.

But at a minimal, this body can do its half by respecting the constitutional rights of residents who come earlier than it. Lest we neglect, we work for them, not the opposite means round. I belief my colleagues—Republicans, Democrats, and independents—will take this to coronary heart.

Because spiritual freedom places all Americans on the identical footing. It helps women and men stand upright, sincere earlier than the regulation—and earlier than God.

This commentary was tailored from Sen. Mike Lee’s latest speech earlier than the Senate.

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