Thursday, February 7, 2013

Contemplating Religion in Government

From Freethinkers by Susan Jacoby: '...when conservatives were insisting that the as yet unratified Constitution should include a religious test for public office, Bentley asked, "But what security is it to a government that every public officer shall swear that  he is a christian? ... One man will declare that the Xtian religion is only an illumination of natural religion ... another Christian will assert that all men must be happy thereafter in spite of themselves; a third Christian reverses the image, and declares that let a man do all he can, he will certainly be punished in another world ... That man who acts an honest part toward his neighbour, will most probably conduct honorably toward the public." - William Bentley, The Diary of William Bentley. '

My commment: The point to William Bentley, I guess, was that a religious test for office would  do no good because of the range of religious thought in his time. Indeed, in our time, just ponder the idea of giving to the poor or even being generous. It is just not a priority to those who would have Christianity run the nation. There seems not even the simplest concept in the Bible, which surely everyone who read it would say was basic and intrinsic, that is followed by every person calling themselves a Christian. Following the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" would effectively bring our country to its knees in the face of terrorism in the minds of many who would, although,  still call themselves Christians despite the startling contradictions of the death penalty or drone strikes.

From the Constitution of the United States: "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."