McCain: Constitution Establishes America as “Christian Nation!”
In an interview for Belief.net, Sen. John McCain (R-NV), a candidate for U.S. president, claims that the Constitution of the United States establishes the country as a “Christian nation!” Needless to say, most Constitutional scholars would disagree with this and church-state separationists should worry about a McCain presidency. In the same interview, McCain says that Mitt Romney’s Mormonism is a “non-issue” (though most mainline and evangelical Christians consider Mormanism to be a cult), but that he would object to a Muslim president (not that any Muslims are currently running). That seems to violate Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution which forbids any religious tests for public office!
It’s hard to tell how serious McCain is about this. The man who castigated Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson in 2000 as “agents of intolerance” has tried to reinvent himself for this campaign as someone more acceptable to the Religious Right. Whereas previously, he had emphasized lifelong membership in the Episcopal Church (the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion), he has recently been claiming membership in a Baptist church–though never baptized as an adult, which is usually a prerequisite for church membership for Baptists. This Belief.net interview seems to be more of the same re-packaging.
But constituencies such as the Religious Right do not merely have to be wooed in campaigning, once in office, they must see evidence that their trust in you was justified. So those of us who believe for theological reasons that the very idea of a “Christian nation” is unbiblical have reason to be worried. So do those who are members of other faiths (e.g., Jews, Muslims, Buddhists) or no faith (agnostics, atheists). What violations of the First Amendment’s ban on laws “respecting an establishment of religion” could we expect in a McCain presidency? Continuation of Bush’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives wherein tax dollars are used for religious purposes? Probably. But what else? And would non-Christian believers find McCain violating the First Amendment by restricting their “free exercise” of religious faith and practice?
In the Belief.net interview, McCain’s views on Islam seem to reinforce the view that the so-called “war on terror” is actually a religious war on Islam–a view that makes it harder for us to get cooperation with Muslims in tackling terrorist groups.
A McCain presidency seems risky, to say the least, to this Leveller–for whom church-state separation is a religious imperative.
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