Feature

A religious test?

Mitt Romney

What happened
Mitt Romney’s recent speech addressing questions about his Mormon faith ignited fresh debate about whether it is appropriate to ask presidential candidates about their religious beliefs.

What the commentators said
“The Constitution prohibits a ‘religious test’ for public office,” said the Palm Springs, Calif., Desert Sun. Romney dealt with the issue because he had to, but “he shouldn't have had to drag his religion into his campaign, neither should the other candidates.”

First of all, Romney “did describe and explain his religion,” said Michael McGough in the Los Angeles Times (free registration). He said that as a Mormon he believes "that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the savior of mankind." What’s more, he’s just plain “wrong” when he says asking about a candidate’s beliefs during a campaign amounts to an actual, unconstitutuional religious test. Besides, everyone is entitled to would withhold their vote from someone whose religion they think would inspire them to pursue “bizarre” policies.

If anyone is holding others up to a religious test, it’s Romney, said Roger Cohen in The New York Times (free registration). He dismisses the secularism of European societies. “Religion informed America’s birth. But its distancing from politics was decisive to the republic’s success.”

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