Does the US Constitution Exclude Religious Opinions?

Been roaming a bit on YouTube again and have run into a few clips featuring a very common misunderstanding of the Constitution and of separation of church and state in the US.

Our Constitution says “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”  A person’s religious beliefs and practices, in and of themselves, cannot be the cause of disqualification for office. That does not mean that the voters cannot consider that person’s religious beliefs when making a choice in the voting booth. It simply means no one acting on behalf of the state can exclude a religious person from appearing on the ballot.

The First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . .” Many people in our day have stretched the meaning of this far beyond the bounds of what it says or intends. It in no way whatsoever suggests that a person, whether merely a voter or an elected official, cannot take personal religious opinions and values into account in making public decisions.

The Bible says we are not to murder. The Bible is a religious book, therefore (by the logic of these misguided people) we can have no laws against murder. When we choose an example like that, it is obvious that an idea cannot be excluded because it is approved by someone’s religion. It can only be excluded if the idea is solely religious and cannot be justified on other grounds as well.

We cannot enforce an idea simply because it is religious and we cannot exclude an idea simply because it is religious. It is that simple.


About mthayes42

I am a retired pastor, interested in the Bible, cross-cultural ministries, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the current and past history of western civilization.
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