By FRC Director for Religious Advocacy, Alexandra McPhee
Imagine that one day you sit down for a job interview. You are prepared to answer your interviewer’s questions and demonstrate your qualifications for the position. Then imagine getting asked a question that has nothing to do with whether you are qualified for the job. In fact, the question has to do with something very personal — your faith.
You have just imagined the job interviews for 10 presidential nominees and their experience before the United States Senate. Not only were they questioned about their faith — they were questioned publicly and by senators who had every intention of casting them in a negative light based on their answers.
FRC’s new Issue Brief, Rebels Without a Clause: When Senators Run Roughshod Over the “No Religious Test” Clause of the U.S. Constitution, catalogs a disturbing trend by senators of interrogating nominees about the particulars of their beliefs or affiliations that demonstrate a hostility towards religion. The questions go beyond a reasonable inquiry into whether the nominee can remain impartial if faced with circumstances that conflict with her personal values. They aim to paint the nominee as discriminatory, partial, and incapable of faithfully carrying out her official duties.
Regardless of the political party of the senator, the nominee’s religious beliefs, or the particular office, these questions deter qualified candidates from pursuing public office at a time when we need them most. Faith and religion, after all, are often the foundation of integrity and character. The hostility and mistrust of religion that underlies these questions threaten to create a deficit of true leaders who are often such great role models because of their faith.
Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), who’s been an outspoken opponent of this harassment, talked about that with Tony on Tuesday’s “Washington Watch.” “I think the two words you used to describe it are accurate: ‘disturbing’ and ‘dangerous.’ …I have never until the last few months seen, on any regular basis, questions like this come up… It’s much easier to castigate somebody or to make someone feel or look isolated if you focus on their religious belief about something being a sin. It’s one of the reasons I think [questions about sexual morality] are so wildly inappropriate.”
As people like Senator Lee continue to draw attention to this flagrant display of bias against certain religious beliefs, we hope more elected leaders will understand that voters will not tolerate attacks against qualified candidates in exchange for fleeting political gain.
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
EDITORS NOTE: This FRC column with images and podcast is republished with permission.