A group of leaders from across a broad spectrum of American religious life urged Senators to pledge their opposition to religious tests of any kind for nominees for public office. A letter, organized by the Religious Freedom Institute, was delivered to the Senate majority and minority leaders today, the day after the United States celebrated “Religious Freedom Day.”
Signatories included representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints, Sikh, Muslim, Baha’is, Hindu, Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant traditions.
The letter was a response to disturbing comments that Senators Harris, Hirono, Feinstein, and others directed at Catholic judicial nominees. This diverse group of religious leaders reminded Senate leadership that imposing a religious test for public office offends core American principles of civility and freedom and is a clear violation of the Constitution.
Just last month, in fact, Senators Harris and Hirono targeted Brian Buescher, a candidate for United States District Judge, over their concern about his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus. The senators raised questions about Buescher’s membership in a Catholic organization whose beliefs follow those of the Catholic Church. As the letter makes clear, such questions about suitability based on religious belief constitute a religious test.
The letter states, “From its inception, the United States Constitution expressed a commitment to religious freedom, both in the religion provisions of the First Amendment and in Article VI’s ban on religious tests for public office.”
The letter’s message to Senate leaders is straightforward, “Political rhetoric that questions the loyalty and fitness of candidates for public office based on their religious beliefs is always wrong,” on both moral and constitutional grounds.
Source: Religious Freedom Institute