Republican candidate Ben Carson stirred up some press when he suggested that there should be a religious test for public office — or at least for the highest public office, anyway:
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” Carson said in an interview televised on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “I absolutely would not agree with that.”
“… Congress is a different story, because it depends on who that Muslim is and what their policies are, just as it depends on what anybody else says, you know,” Carson said.
This is because Carson asserts that the Muslim faith is “inconsistent with the values of America.”
When doubling down on the comments, his campaign spokesman did a little song-and-dance to justify Carson’s logic:
“He did not say that a Muslim should be prevented from running, or barred from running in any way,” Watts said. “He [Carson] just doesn’t believe the American people are ready for that.”
“Dr. Carson is a strict adherent to the First Amendment — freedom of religion. That includes people of all faith,” Watts said. “He has great respect for the Muslim community, but there is a huge gulf between the faith and practice of the Muslim faith, and our Constitution and American values,” he added.
Lest anyone think that this is an anomaly or only particular to Muslims, there are a number of states that ban people who don’t believe in God from running for public office (although these bans aren’t typically enforced and are likely unconstitutional), and the argument is sometimes also applied to Mormons, Jews and people of LGBT-affirming Christian faiths. And there is no shortage of far right pundits who claim this is justified.