Should We Elect a Muslim President?

Should We Elect a Muslim President? September 22, 2015

Ben Carson stirred up the latest Republican primary tempest this weekend when he volunteered the opinion that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” What should we make of this statement?

First, it speaks to a pervasive religious ignorance in our political culture, of which Carson is hardly the only example. If we assume that the world’s billion or so Muslims are all the same – all of them jihadists and Sharia-imposers – then perhaps Carson would have a point. But even America’s Muslims are not uniform in their knowledge, views, and practice of Islam. They’re as diverse as so-called American “Christians,” who range from the liberalism of President Obama’s United Church of Christ, to Mike Huckabee’s Southern Baptist faith, to the millions who profess to be Christians – even “evangelicals” – but who never darken a church door.

Who is the typical American Muslim? Fort Hood murderer and jihadist Nidal Hasan? Or perhaps one of the 700,000 or so Iranian Shias who live in Los Angeles, many of whom originally came to America fleeing the fundamentalist Iranian Revolution in 1979? Many of these folks and their children are ethnically Muslim but functionally secular. They have no interest in practicing fundamentalist Sharia law, much less imposing it on others. Who counts as “a Muslim” in America? How about a new Pakistani immigrant in Houston? Or U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, Congress’s first elected Muslim? The point is that saying “a Muslim” should not become president makes no sense. There’s more than one kind of Muslim.

Ben Carson speaking at CPAC 2014 in Washington, DC. By Gage Skidmore. Wikimedia Commons. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Carson’s statement also reminds us that the Constitution’s prohibition on religious tests means that real defenders of religious liberty would insist that no one’s faith should necessarily disqualify them from political office. We have make a careful distinction here, of course. The Constitution hardly bans Americans from taking a candidate’s faith, or lack thereof, into consideration when voting. Many on the left voted against George W. Bush in part because they found his evangelical faith disconcerting. Likewise, Ben Carson has the right to believe that, as a matter of his political preference, he would not want any Muslim to be president. Whatever we may think about this view, it does not violate the Constitution. But presidential aspirants should not single out any religious group for such marginalization – doing so does violate the spirit of the Constitution’s inclusive notion of religious liberty.

Finally, we should note that the framers of the “no religious test” clause specifically debated whether this meant that, one day, an atheist or a Muslim might be elected president. Opponents said that it would. Proponents, including many evangelical Baptists, admitted that one day, a Muslim or atheist might indeed become president. That’s what real religious liberty requires – adherents of any and all faiths should be able to participate fully in the life of the republic, and not suffer special disadvantages, because of their faith.

Does Islam have a particular problem with regard to jihadist violence and terrorism? Yes, of course it does. But real religious liberty requires that law-abiding adherents of all faiths have equal access, in principle, to the benefits and offices of the republic, including the presidency.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • kierkegaard71

    You said, “But presidential aspirants should not single out any religious group for such marginalization – doing so does violate the spirit of the Constitution’s inclusive notion of religious liberty.” How does it marginalize Muslims for Ben Carson to say that he would not support a Muslim becoming President? There are a whole lot of people who would not, in principle, support a Muslim becoming President. I think what it is really at work here is that the mainstream media are setting traps for people like Ben Carson by asking them questions such as these. I think Carson’s opinion is rather judicious and sound; when one looks at the nations governed by Muslims today, the track record for support of religious liberty is pretty appalling. I find Ben Carson extremely refreshing, when compared to the current crop of GOP contenders.

  • Fantastic Post. Couldn’t agree more.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Carson is just exposing the ignorance and xenophobia that is a plague upon the GOP. As you note, Islam covers a wide spectrum. While legally there should be no faith test, I would not personally want to see a rigidly conservative Muslim become President. And you know what? Ditto for a right wing conservative Christian like Carson.

  • Kamal Fahmi

    Are you advocating by your argument that there is a possblity for Jim Jones the leader of People Temple to become the prisdent for the US?

  • Ben C

    Dr. Kidd, thanks for the post, I mostly agree with you.
    However, religious tolerance and inclusion only goes so far. One of the values of American culture is religious liberty, diversity, and the practice of one’s faith in the public square. But what happens when you face a religion that doesn’t hold such values, but instead believes in religious superiority, authoritarianism, and the silencing of dissent and divergent beliefs? To include such a religion, or those practicing such a religion, in a culture and its political leadership would be to plant the seeds of destruction for the indigenous culture. Certainly there are current debates about what Islam *really* teaches, but let’s just assume that one form of it teaches and practices religious exclusion and the persecution and subjugation of other religions. If a Muslim of this stripe were elected President, we could not be assured that they would uphold the Constitution and its values — the very document that allowed them and their religious views to flourish and be elected in the first place. And if such a fundamentalist Muslim were to become president, an oath of office to protect the Constitution would be meaningless because of the Islamic doctrine of taqiya, which allows lying to escape persecution and for other circumstances. So it seems to me that a common culture of values and basic beliefs is in fact necessary for a pluralistic democracy like ours to survive. If we don’t realize this, we run the risk that our own ignorance about variant radical strains of Islam could precipitate a situation that leads to the destruction of our society.

  • Are you kidding me? This entire article reads like something from Daily Kos – complete with mis-representing what he actually said, then ignoring his clarifying remarks. Saying that he would not “advocate” a Muslim President is NOT the same thing as saying he wouldn’t allow it.

    Shame on you for such a dishonest article.

  • Sven2547

    How does it marginalize Muslims for Ben Carson to say that he would not support a Muslim becoming President?

    Because the whole thing is prejudicial. Carson is content to make a hasty generalization based on someone’s religion, rather than exercising that intellect he supposedly possesses and employing critical thinking. How about you actually vet candidates on an individual basis, rather than glibly say you’re against Muslim Presidential candidates?

    This appeal to prejudice really speaks to Dr. Carson’s shortcomings as a candidate.

  • Sven2547

    Saying that he would not “advocate” a Muslim President is NOT the same thing as saying he wouldn’t allow it.

    It’s like you didn’t read the column at all.

    Ben Carson has the right to believe that, as a matter of his political preference, he would not want any Muslim to be president. Whatever we may think about this view, it does not violate the Constitution.

  • I read the blog twice, and it’s a complete perversion of what Ben Carson actually said. And the author COMPLETELY ignores what Carson said in clarification of his initial comment.

    How typical of knee-jerk journalism.

  • Carson is making a generalization based on what Radical Muslims are doing around the world. Your blindness to that speaks to your shortcomings as a reader of world news.

    Tell me Sven, do you want Sharia in the United States? Or would you rather have a President who – regardless of religious leanings – upholds the Constitution?

  • Sven2547

    do you want Sharia in the United States?

    Of course not. Why are you even asking this? It’s a completely separate question. Or do you think the election of a Muslim to the office of President would necessarily mean such a thing?

  • I’m asking the question because you don’t seem to understand that Carson is NOT saying he doesn’t want a Muslim President.

    What, about this, do you people not understand?

  • Hey – let’s not be broad-brushing fanatical cult-leaders here! 😉

  • Sven2547

    you don’t seem to understand that Carson is NOT saying he doesn’t want a Muslim President

    Actually that is literally what he is saying.

  • “I would not advocate for…” is absolutely NOT the same thing as saying he doesn’t want a Muslim President. It is literally NOT the same thing. The question is not whether or not the man is a Muslim, but what kind of Muslim.

    I believe you’re as ignorant of what Carson said, as is the author of this article.

  • Sven2547

    The very next sentence he says “I would not agree with that.” He would not agree with having a Muslim President. You cannot possibly spin this to the contrary.

  • What you just wrote lumps you right in with the “ignorant and xenophobic” people you condemn.

  • I’m not the one spinning it, buddy. You are, as is the author of this article. He would not ADVOCATE it. Do you NOT understand that there is a HUGE difference between “advocate” and “allow”?

    Again, do you want Sharia in the United States? Or would your choice of whether or not a Muslim becomes President depend on what KIND of Muslim he is?

    No spinning. You need to be honest.

  • Sven2547

    Again, do you want Sharia in the United States?

    Dude, I already answered this. Nobody wants Sharia in the United States. Why are you asking this? How is this even remotely relevant? Why do Carson supporters keep raising this stupid straw-man?

    Or would your choice of whether or not a Muslim becomes President depend on what KIND of Muslim he is?

    Exactly! But Carson made no such distinction. Carson said he would not agree with a Muslim being President. No consideration whatsoever for what kind of Muslim.

  • Yes, Carson absolutely DID make that distinction!

    I would strongly suggest that you – and the author of this article – exercise due diligence in knowing what Carson actually said.

  • Asemodeus

    He didn’t. He assumed, lazily, that a muslim president couldn’t do the job. Which is a Article VI violation.

  • How/where did Carson say that? Are you just drinking the liberal media’s KoolAid here?

    Carson clearly said that he would not ADVOCATE for a Muslim President, then CLARIFIED that it would depend entirely upon what KIND of Muslim the man was.

  • Sven2547

    Yes, Carson absolutely DID make that distinction!

    Could you please quote where he said he would be okay with having a Muslim be President, provided they’re not a radical?

  • How you’re spinning it again.

    Why not just admit that you, and the author of this article, are both dead wrong in spinning what Carson said.

    From there you would do well to stop spinning things. Period.

  • Asemodeus

    “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” Carson said. “I absolutely would not agree with that.”

    That’s a Article VI violation. Why do you want to live in a theocracy?

  • What do you people not understand about the word ADVOCATE?

    And my question to you is this: Why would YOU want to live in a Theocracy?

  • Sven2547

    I’ll take that as a “no”. For all your insistence that he “clarified it”, you cannot provide a citation to that effect.

    The man is a disgrace, and his supporters are desperately trying to save his PR.

  • Asemodeus

    He is still violating Article VI, which in and of itself should disqualify him for office. He just admitted to wanting to violate the Constitution. How you are fine with this speaks towards your desire to live in a theocracy.

  • Asemodeus

    What do you not understand about Article VI? Why do you want to live in a theocracy?

  • You don’t know anything about Islam, do you?

    On NBCs “Meet The Press,” Chuck Todd asked Carson if he believes Islam is “consistent with the Constitution.” Carson said, “No, I do not. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”

    Imposing Sharia on the entire world is built into the Muslim faith. It is part and parcel of Islam. The Muslims who don’t want to enforce Sharia are not following Islam.

    Carson is right. We do not want Sharia in the United States. He is also right in NOT ADVOCATING putting a Muslim in the White House.

    Sorry you refuse to understand that.

  • Absolutely false. You are the one violating Article VI. Carson is the one defending it. No blind advocating a Muslim President.

    What do you not understand about that?

  • RustbeltRick

    These questions should not be hard for men and women running for president. The answer should be blandly simple: “There shouldn’t be any religious litmus test for someone running for president.” I mean, Carson’s same party threw their support behind a Mormon last time. Ideally, the assumption is that the candidate’s faith is secondary to his or her ability to lead. That Carson can’t just say something straightforward like that is evidence of a candidate who has problematic beliefs and a serious communications disconnect.

  • Sven2547

    Imposing Sharia on the entire world is built into the Muslim faith. It is part and parcel of Islam. The Muslims who don’t want to enforce Sharia are not following Islam.

    Backed into a corner, you’re now just doubling-down on the prejudice and fear-mongering. The position that all Muslims want to impose a Saudi-esque Sharia legal system around the world is balderdash, and you should be ashamed of yourself for perpetuating this slanderous, bigoted filth.

  • First of all, I’m not backed into a corner at all. You’re the one trying to defend your spin/lies of what Carson said. You’re the one who refuses to admit that the definition of “advocate” and “allow” are NOT the same thing.

    Also, stop lying about what I said. You look extremely foolish. What I actually SAID was/is that Sharia is built in to, and is part of, Islam. If you knew anything about Islam you would know that.

    Now, I would STRONGLY suggest you stop lying about what I said.

  • Asemodeus

    You just violated Article VI, Paragraph 3:

    “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of
    the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers,
    both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by
    Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

    A religious test for office is explicitly and literally forbidden in the Constitution. You want there to be a religious test to exclude Muslims, which means you are a traitor to America and wish to overthrow the Constitution and establish a theocracy.

    You have already shown yourself to be far more dangerous to this country than any hypothetical Muslim president.

  • Spoken like a good hard-core Democrat.

    Carson was very clear in what he said. He would not ADVOCATE for a Muslim President.

    So… Would you ADVOCATE for a Muslim President? Or would it depend entirely on whether or not said candidate was a Democrat?

  • Sven2547

    You’re the one who refuses to admit that the definition of “advocate” and “allow” are NOT the same thing.

    As I’ve already pointed out, in the very next sentence he said he would “not agree” with a Muslim being President. He has continued to espouse this position. You have repeatedly claimed that he “clarified” his position to mean that non-radical Muslims could be President, but you have refused to cite any example of him saying such a thing.

    What I actually SAID was/is that Sharia is built in to, and is part of, Islam.

    You also said that imposing Sharia upon the entire world is an intrinsic part of the Muslim faith. That is plainly untrue, and you should stop perpetuating that lie. It just leads to more prejudicial, bigoted comments like Carson’s.

  • Hahaha! Are you crying and screaming as you write that?

    ADVOCATING for a Muslim President would be a violation of Article VI – and that is precisely what Carson said he would NOT do.

    Thanks for playing.

  • Sven2547

    He also said he would “not agree” with a Muslim being President, claiming that their values are incompatible with the Constitution.

    You keep clinging to this word, “advocate”, but Carson has gone much further than a lack of advocacy. It it outright hostility.

  • You are dead wrong on so many levels.

    You are lying about what Carson said, and now you are lying about what I’ve said.

    Carson said he would not be okay with having a President who upholds his faith before the Constitution.

    Stop lying about what everyone is saying.

  • A Muslim WHO DOES NOT UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, BUT RATHER PRESSES HIS FAITH.

    You keep lying about what Carson said. You should stop doing that.

  • Sven2547

    A Muslim WHO DOES NOT UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, BUT RATHER PRESSES HIS FAITH.

    A distinction Carson never made. You’re making stuff up.

  • Direct quote. Sorry.

    And it’s straight from NPR – a decidedly liberal source, so you should be happy with it.

    Do you have ANY idea how horribly you have lost this argument? Good grief, you’ve been reduced to bold-faced lying. Give it a rest!

  • RustbeltRick

    The answer is yes. Right now I’m trying to decide between a Jewish man, a Methodist woman, and a Catholic man who hasn’t decided whether or not to enter the race. If an excellent Muslim Democrat is considering getting the race, then great, I’d like to see what he or she is all about. Because I’m more about positions and policies than the shape of his house of worship. Carson could have easily told the reporter that he has in the past voted for people of different faiths (Catholics, Protestants, Mormons) and that he tries to look beyond all that to choose a good leader. But he didn’t do that, since I suppose he knows his base includes a lot of people with antipathy toward Islam and it’s bad for him to play nice with Muslims.

  • He was asked a direct question, and he answered it.

    Do you want Sharia in the United States? If not, how would you decide whether or not you would vote for a candidate who is a Muslim?

  • Sven2547

    I’m looking directly at the transcript. The phrase “A Muslim who does not uphold the Constitution, but rather his own faith” does not appear. Could you perhaps provide a link?

  • Asemodeus

    You want to apply a religious test. That’s unconstitutional. I am the one that is following the constitution. To me the religion of a candidate doesn’t merit consideration, since the constitution doesn’t consider it a issue either. You want it to be an issue because you want a theocracy. That makes you a danger to our secular country.

  • Sven2547

    Do you want Sharia in the United States?

    There you go again.

  • Butt out. The question was not asked of you.

    The fact that you cannot follow the line of reasoning is not my problem. Perhaps RustbeltRick can.

  • Go to NPR and look it up.

  • Where did I say I want to apply a religious test?

    Give me the quote, or I’ll no longer respond to your silliness.

  • Sven2547

    I already told you, I’m looking directly at the NPR transcript. The phrase “A Muslim who does not uphold the Constitution, but rather his own faith” does not appear.

    Carson supporters look more and more like Trump supporters every day. All bluster and no substance.

  • Asemodeus

    Thanks for admitting defeat.

    “No blind advocating a Muslim President.” – You.

    That is you applying a religious test. To the Constitution the faith of a public official is irrelevant. To you it is a big deal because you’re a theocrat. You’re defense of Carson is proof of guilt as well.

    Thanks for playing. Since you just admitted to defeat we can move on to another topic and help you with some of your other problems. What other zombie lies do you hold and need help correcting?

  • I’ve had enough of your lying. I’m done.

  • Good grief, how is it possible for you and Sven to be such bold-faced liars? You guys are incredible!

    “No blind advocating of a Muslim President” is 100% consistent with Article 6. It is the exact same thing as “no blind advocating of a Christian President.”

    “To you it is a big deal because you are a theocrat.” You are a bold-faced little liar.

    Wow, I’m surprised to run into such shallow-minded liars here. You and Sven are quite a pair. There’s no reason for me to continue to humor your imbecilic drivel. All you do is lie anyway.

  • Asemodeus

    You’re violating Article VI by even discussing religion in public officials in the first place. How you keep doing this showcases your desire to overthrow the Constitution.

  • RustbeltRick

    Because any plausible candidate for president should have a record of responsible public service or, as in the case of Carson/Trump/Carly, a professional record that helps vet what kind of person they are. If Keith Ellison runs for president, I can assume that he doesn’t have Sharia up his sleeve, because his years of service in Washington and in Minnesota don’t indicate that he was an extremist or even that his Muslim faith was much of an issue at all.

  • HamburgerHelper

    I find his question rather odd since too many Americans already believe that the President is a Muslim.

  • Warren

    CHUCK TODD:

    Let me wrap this up by finally dealing with what’s been going on, Donald Trump, and a deal with a questioner that claimed that the president was Muslim. Let me ask you the question this way: Should a President’s faith matter? Should your faith matter to voters?

    DR. BEN CARSON:

    Well, I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the constitution, no problem.

    CHUCK TODD:

    So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the constitution?

    DR. BEN CARSON:

    No, I don’t, I do not.

    CHUCK TODD:

    So you–

    DR. BEN CARSON:

    I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.

  • HamburgerHelper

    Can I substitute “Theocratic Law” or anything that a radically conservative Evangelical might want for the phrase Sharia Law.?

  • Mark Byron

    Well put, sir. Anyone who would be a serious candidate for president would “responsible”, or they wouldn’t get a much of a hearing..

  • ugluk2

    I wouldn’t want Carson because he said that there should be no war crimes trials for Americans in the war on terror– in other words his ethical stance is similar to that of terrorists. And of course he is an anti-Muslim bigot. Not all conservative evangelicals think like Carson, but those who do should not be President.

  • UnreconstructedRebel

    This oft repeated appeal to the fact that the Const forbids religious test is a weak argument and a half-truth. While it’s true that there is no religious test for federal office holders, everyone is forgetting that the mass of political power was with the States at this time and was intended to remain so, at least until Mr. Lincoln destroyed State sovereignty at the point of a bayonet.

    The feds may have had no religious test but the States, where the real power lay, certainly had them, and they generally forbade non-Christians or atheists from holding office. This inane claim that a muslim could just as easily discharge the office of President as a Presbyterian asks us to ignore the glaring historical fact that American govt itself was established upon a foundation of over 1000 years of Western Christendom in general and 250 years of the Protestant Reformation (Calvinism especially) in particular, along with 500 years of English liberties dating to Magna Carta.

    No Christianity; no America. It’s that simple. One has to be willfully stupid to believe that a sincere adherent to Islam, which is not merely a private system of belief, but is rather a comprehensive worldview about how society and it’s law is to be organized, is qualified in any way to take up the chief executive office of a such a distinctly English, Reformed, Christian institution as American Constitutional govt.

    Having said all that, I think the Founders were a little to full of their la-de-da Enlightenment musings and, like most of the States, should have simply made it mandatory for any federal office holder in any of the three branches to profess Trinitarian Christianity. Yes, I understand this would have disqualified John Adams and Mr Lincoln. That just strengthens my argument, I think.

  • mintap

    Ask Dr. Carson how he defines “Muslim.” Don’t define it differently as you criticize his statement.

    He was responding to a question about if Islam is consistent with the U.S. Constitution. He was specially using the term “Muslim” relating to the political Islamic position that is in opposition to the U.S. Constitution. And he was specifically talking about what he would advocate.

    To the next question about if he would vote for a Muslim he said it depends on what kind of Muslim and what their policies are.

    In other words, his position is a balanced and healthy one here.

  • mintap

    “we should note that the framers of the ‘no religious test’ clause specifically debated whether this meant that, one day, an atheist or a Muslim might be elected president.”

    Is there a source for this?

  • Santino

    Perfect logical response. One that can not be addressed by those who oppose simple logic and truth.

    ““If you can find me a Muslim candidate who is a Republican, who will
    fight hard to protect religious liberty, who will respect the
    Judeo-Christian heritage of America, who will be committed to destroying
    ISIS and radical Islam, who will condemn cultures that treat women as
    second-class citizens and who will place their hand on the Bible and
    swear to uphold the Constitution, then yes, I will be happy to consider
    voting for him or her,” Bobby Jindal

    FURTHER:
    The Prime Minister of Turkey ALSO speaks a simple truth:
    PM Erdogan: “The Term ‘Moderate Islam’ Is Ugly And Offensive; There Is No Moderate Islam; Islam Is Islam,”

    FINALLY:
    The objection to a Muslim president has NOTHING to do with a religious litmus test, it has to do with a belief in sharia law that would superseded our Constitution.

  • Absolutely! Please do. Carson did exactly that too.

  • Debbie

    Carson never said that the Constitution disallows a Muslim POTUS or that a Muslim should be barred from running. He said it would be a mistake to elect a Muslim who doesn’t reject sharia law, and it would, just as surely as it would be a mistake to elect a Christian who wanted to bring back witch burning and the Inquisition.

    In a non-bizarro world, the statement of the obvious fact that many basic tenets of sharia and Islam are incompatible with the Constitution would be uncontroversial.

    Regardless of how most Muslims live and do or don’t practice their faith, all mainstream schools of Islamic thought and sharia reject freedom of expression and freedom of religion. All make blasphemers and apostates eligible for the death penalty. All reject the separation of mosque and state. All permit slavery. None make men and women and Muslims and non-Muslims equal in the eyes of their god or the law.

    Anybody who denies these facts is lying, repeating lies which they believe to be true, engaged in wishful thinking, or uninformed.

  • Galorgan

    Carson also said that any Muslim would-be-President would have to swear on a stack of Bibles. That’s literally a religious test for office. Wow.

  • Hominid

    I think it was Lincoln who said that “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” The Constitution is somewhat schizophrenic in that it appears to guarantee freedom of conscience even for those seeking the highest office who might be antiConstitutional or antiAmerican. Islam is not simply a religion – it is a social ideology that espouses a legal system and governance system that is ANTITHETICAL to the Constitution and the values of Americanism. To pretend Islam is just another religion and not a political system is insane. To pretend that Islam is compatible with American values is insane. A President is sworn to uphold the Constitution – a Moslem is sworn to destroy the US Constitution. A Moslem cannot be American, let alone President.

  • Hominid

    Because Moslims are de facto against the Constitution and American values, dummy. It’s like saying a socialist can be American or President.

  • Hominid

    You’re either an ignoramus or an idiot. Of course a Moslim cannot be American – he is a priori dedicated to antiAmerican values.

  • Hominid

    I think he is saying exactly that. And, he’s right!

  • Debbie

    I doubt that he meant that a Muslim POTUS should be literally, legally required to swear on stack of bibles. He isn’t especially gifted at choosing his words carefully.

    Given that one of the basic tenets of Islam is that the koran –violently infidelophic and misogynistic passages and all– is the literal word of the god which the barbarian warlord Mohammed reinvented in his own image, it is not an unreasonable preference that the POTUS reject this tenet.

    As an atheist, I don’t share Carson’s faith, but like him, I could not get behind a Muslim POTUS who would not be considered a radical heretic or apostate of Islam eligible for execution by many if not most devout Muslims who are well-versed in Islamic ideology and scripture.

    BTW, had you ever thought of the swearing-in ceremony as “literally a religious test for office” before Carson said that?

  • Hominid

    Islam is not just a religion, dummy.

  • Phil Griffin

    Hilarious banter…. the article is outdated based on Carson’s recent comments. Here’s an interesting article to further the debate. Enjoy! http://spectator.org/articles/64142/empty-outrage-about-ben-carson

  • Phil Griffin
  • bdlaacmm

    No.

  • Asemodeus

    Carson is doing the classic republican two step, where he lies about his previous comments, even through they were recorded, and acts all surprised that people are holding him to his own word.

  • RustbeltRick

    It’s also a dessert topping!

  • Hominid

    You’re infantile.

  • RustbeltRick

    You refer to people as “dummy” in your responses. I’m supposed to treat you as capable of adult dialogue?

  • axelbeingcivil

    It’d also have excluded Thomas Jefferson, whose pen wrote the Constitution itself.

    Likewise, you’re ignoring the fact that the Constitution of the United States was a very pointed jab aimed directly at those years of Western Christendom and the traditions thereof; most specifically, that of Catholicism, Anglicanism, and the Divine Right of Kings. Those thousand-and-some-odd-centuries of Western Christendom included provisions by the Church that declared democracy a Satanic institution, and Anglican Protestantism – which all those English colonists would no doubt have been familiar – explicitly set the king as the head of the Church, making rebellion against such a rightful leader not merely unlawful but sinful.

    At the time of the American Revolution, there was no shortage of people – priests and printers both – spewing out tracts calling the actions of the revolutionaries sinful and unChristian. The Magna Carta was likewise said to be so when it was brought into law, as was the Petition of Right, which came about during the English Civil War (Milton, who wrote Paradise Lost, actually wrote a treatise called On the Tenure of Kings and their Magistrates, which tried to defend deposing and executing kings through a Christian perspective, because there was so much push-back against the idea from a religious background). It would be fairer to say that the American Constitution is a result of millennia of rebelling AGAINST the Western Christian tradition, rather than any sort of embrace of it. Such is the way of things, though; that the oppressors inevitably claim the developments of the oppressed as their own invention.

    Your rather insulting analysis of Muslims, atheists, and non-Christians in general is based on a belief that certain classes of people perfectly adhere to whatever stereotypes you set upon their heads, but this is patently untrue. Plenty of Muslims believe in secular government, because they, like Jefferson and many of his compatriots, believe that a government that is separate from religion is one that cannot oppress or control it and allows people to exist and practice their beliefs peacefully. Atheists, meanwhile, are human beings, who are capable of discharging their duties faithfully and in an upright fashion. Christian presidents, meanwhile, have condoned slavery and racism on vast scales, authorized genocide, and, given that every president thus far has professed Christianity, done every single thing you’d ever say a president has done that you disagree with.

    What, precisely, are you afraid they would do, exactly? Round people up and ship them off to camps? Declare the United States a caliphate, or a client state to Saudi Arabia? (Not that you’d notice a difference on the latter count, given how the US bends over backwards for the Saudi kings and their oil wells…)

  • UnreconstructedRebel

    Thos. Jefferson did not write the Constitution; he was in France at the time. In any case, Mr Jefferson remained a member in good standing of the Anglican church into which he was baptized.

    Washington, Patrick Henry, and other Founders that would be tedious to list were members of the established Anglican church in States like VA, so your thesis that the Constitution was an attempt to overthrow Anglicanism seems a bit bizarre. American Anglicanism was deeply influence by Calvinism rather than Royalist style Laudian High Church-ism.

    “…calling the actions of the revolutionaries sinful and unChristian. The Magna Carta was likewise said to be so when it was brought into law,…” Ummm, perhaps you are unaware that Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton was one of the prime movers behind Magna Carta, and indeed the excommunication of King John by the Pope had only been lifted a few months prior to the Magna Carta being signed?

    What am I afraid of under a muslim President? I don’t know, maybe you could investigate the various, once Christian, nations of N Africa and the Levant that they overran and the fate of non-muslims in those countries and form a view. Start with the Copts of Egypt and stick with it until you get to the Iraqi Assyrian Christians.

    “Christian presidents, meanwhile, have condoned slavery and racism on vast scales” – so, what’s your point? All of these were undertaken within the bounds of the Constitution.

    “…every president thus far has professed Christianity,…” – Lincoln didn’t, he was a secular infidel and he was responsible for the deaths of ca. 1 million Americans, and so he serves as a prime example of why not to elect non-Christians.

    I find the rest of your argument similarly grounded on either false analogies, faulty history or a tendentious bias against our Christian heritage, which you benefit from, but refuse to acknowledge.

    You may deny the Calvinist Christian impulse that drove American independence, but the British who lived at the time certainly recognized it. One British officer famously said the American colonial revolt was “Presbyterian Parson’s rebellion” and Horace Walpole complained in the royal Parliament that “Cousin America has run off with a Presbyterian parson, and there’s an end of it.”

  • Croquet_Player

    We’ve already had Muslims die for this country, and now Ben Carson says a Muslim shouldn’t be elected president – just because he’s a Muslim? Would it surprise Dr. Carson to know there are a number of people who wouldn’t vote for him for just one reason?

  • Galorgan

    Since it’s not mandatory to do so on a Bible, much less a stack of them, no. If somebody says that the president should be sworn in on a stack of Bibles, then yes.

  • Debbie

    “Should” isn’t ordinarily synonymous with “must” or even with “should be mandatory,” and I disagree that his context made it so.

  • axelbeingcivil

    Mea culpa on Jefferson; I was thinking of the Declaration of Independence. Either way, Jefferson wasn’t a Trinitarian; he wouldn’t even be called a Christian by most standards. He definitely liked Christian morals, but the man went so far as to publish his own version of the Bible with all the supernatural elements cut out. He also argued quite vocally in favour of ensuring the full civil rights of Muslims.

    Don’t get me started on the rest of them.

    As for Langton, you’ll find that the politics of the Magna Carta are complex. Langton can’t truly have been said to support the Magna Carta, though he definitely did work as an intermediary and was careful to accomodate both sides. What can be definitively said, however, is that after the barons forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, the Pope excommunicated them en masse, and Langton was suspended from his role as Archbishop for refusal to pass this on.

    Meanwhile, you might just so happen to find that a Muslim elected to the presidency of the United States would have to be so by the majority of American citizens, and would, in turn, be answerable to them. They wouldn’t maintain that office long if they violated the Constitution.

    And as for slavery and racism, saying “So what?” or that they were legal at the time doesn’t change the fact that they were abominable. Slavery is a vile act, but it’s one Christians endorsed for countless centuries, especially in the United States. If you proclaim that Christianity ensures a higher moral standard in some way, the endless litany of counter-examples defeats this argument.

    If your answer to slavery is “So what?”, your definition of morality is one I don’t think I would ever wish to see in any political office.

  • UnreconstructedRebel

    Well, the Magna Carta story now rebounds back to show why the Reformation and Calvinist thought were essential to justifying American independence, which was one of the main points of my original post. In the world of the Medieval Church, where the only legitimate allegiance was to the Pope and one’s temporal ruler, then its hard to talk about govt rule subordinate to God, rights to self-determination, doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate, etc.

    The bible does not consider slavery to be “vile”; it pragmatically recognizes it as a feature of a fallen world, along with things like divorce and warfare and sets forth standards to regulate its conduct and practice, for both master and slave.

    The Apostle Paul referred to slave owner Philemon as his brother in Christ. Church leaders from Augustine to Calvin justified slavery as compatible with biblical Christianity. The Puritans of New England inaugurated the slave trade and it’s most prominent clergy, e.g., Cotton Mather, supported it. Jonathan Edwards was a slaveholder – was he “vile”?, ditto George Whitfield.

    If the most renowned theologian and most famous evangelist respectively of the 18th century were content with owning slaves, I think that leaves you grasping at abolitionists rhetoric as a basis for your moral judgements, which is nothing but empty self-righteousness.

  • zachary

    Yeah, Carson seems like he’s flat out against any Muslim being president which is a pretty messed up and non-deomcratic stance and shame on all of you fear-mongers for acting self righteous and talking about religious extremists .

    Our congress barely lets a moderate democrat like Obama do much as a president, even if a Muslim were ever elected you’re insane if you think that would mean we’d be subjected to religious law.

  • zachary

    Aww, you’re using all-caps so much you MUST be right 😛

  • wilfthebison

    To answer this question, you have to realise that islam is first and foremost a political movement, a political movement that just happens to have ‘religion’ as it’s ideology.
    Where as most religions have “personal enlightenment”, in some form, as their objective, Islam is different. The object of islam is geographical political control followed by enforced obedience to Sharia Law, it doesn’t really care if you are enlightened or not. The options are 1)submit to Islam 2) die. In this respect it has much more in common with Bolshevik Communism than any other religion including Christianity.
    So the question is- should someone fundamentally opposed to democracy and the American constitution, become President.

  • AFBooks

    It seems that Thomas Kidd failed to hear everything Dr. Carson said.

    He first claims the presumption of a hasty generalization and personal attack on those who hold to a faith different from Muslims by referring to them as “ignorant.” Now how would Kidd know that his interpretation of Dr. Carson suggest “pervasive ignorance?” He doesn’t. The statement simply reflects an uncalled for hasty judgment on Kidd’s part and fails to address what Dr. Carson said within context. To engage in name-calling by claiming Dr. Carson is ignorant and then to follow that up with “Carson is hardly the only example” is straining a knat.

    He fails to give any other example of his name-calling unless his citation of the President or Huckabee constitutes examples. But he does not say they are. His pejorative of “darken a church door” is trite and is not an argument on the merits while saying nothing at all.

    He then proceeds to ask, “Who is the typical American Muslim?” He then fails to answer his own question with any support. None.

    Kidd then cites the Constitution supposedly to support his argument. He reminds us that there is no religious litmus test found in the Constitution, thus supporting Carson more than himself. So why bring this up – so he could make another unfounded claim, “But presidential aspirants should not single out any religious group for such marginalization – doing so does violate the spirit of the Constitution’s inclusive notion of religious liberty.” Dr. Carson was marginalizing no one. Dr. Carson has every right as Kidd to have his voice heard in the public square. If Carson should not voice his opinion, then neither should Kidd. However, his statement is far from the 1st Amendment concerning free speech and its prohibition. Kidd has his opinion and so does Carson. Who is Kidd to tell Carson what he should not speak?

    Kidd fails to tell us what he means by marginalization. That is still another logical fallacy of hasty generalization and says nothing. Second, there is no such thing as “the spirit of the Constitution’s inclusive notion of religious liberty.” The Constitution is plain and readable by all. There is no “spirit” or “notion” in
    it.

    When Kidd fails to support his argument by the Constitution, he then attempts another strained argument, “framers of ‘no religious test’ clause.” He shows he has not read case law rulings related to Article VI, paragraph 3, “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State
    Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

    Courts have ruled just the opposite of what Kidd suggests; that is no employee or elected official cannot be required to give a religious oath. That is a far cry from being ban for holding a certain belief. This type of ruling goes back to the 16th and 17th centuries in England that leaders were required to take oaths to the Church of England. Rather, as Carson noted, a person must take an oath to uphold the Constitution. Carson went on to say that Muslims who place their religious belief above the Constitution could not hold office. Carson’s interpretation is in keeping with the context Article VI, paragraph 3. Kidd’s is not.

    Kidd’s article shows gross misinterpretation of the law concerning elected office. He also fails to support his basic premise but instead relies on logical fallacies.

    I know that some will reply with immediate personal attacks, and that is expected given the number of times I have experienced them on Patheos. I will ignore them. So, if your reply includes a personal attack, please note that it will go unnoticed, indicating that it is a personal attack. I will reply to those who write well with support for their arguments only in reply to what I wrote. Therefore, if I do not reply to your response, know that you do not support your argument well but use logical fallacies instead of an argument on the merits.

  • This article is fundamentally mistaken. The problem with having a Muslim (of any variety) in any American elected office is that the religion of Islam actually is something, and that something is completely incompatible with the principles of freedom and rights on which our country was founded. It does not matter if a given person claiming to be a Muslim knows that Islam was founded on a set of mystical rationalizations for pillaging and enslaving others. The fact holds. The kind of error of judgment shown in your article compels me to leave your list.

  • cken

    “Does Islam have a particular problem with regard to jihadist violence and terrorism? Yes, of course it does.” REALLY!? Has anybody heard any Muslims anywhere condemn the jihadists in any public forum?

  • Ben Carson shows his good sense. No FREE nation wants to put in as a leader a person who does not believe in freedom. And the ‘bible’ of Islam makes clear that people are free only to believe in their moon god Allah and otherwise should be robbed and killed.

  • You can substitute anything you want to, but the reason we must not allow ANY Muslim to lead our nation is simple good sense. We’ve seen what a Muslim sympathizer can do toward ruining us with Obama in the White House. It will take two generations of tax-payers to get us out of the hole into which Obama has put us.

  • Yes, it certainly would “mean such a thing”!

  • But Obama has welcomed Muslims by the thousands to become citizens. And in Dearborn, Michigan and in other cities we’re beginning to see what happens when enough Muslim voters vote.

  • Are all Volvo owners unable to understand simple English? BEN CARSON speaks for the nation when he says this nation doesn’t want a Muslim President.

  • BEN CARSON speaks for us all in saying we do not want any Muslim in charge of our government.

  • Every Muslim has sworn allegiance to Allah. It was required. NO Muslim should be elected to lead this nation or any part of this nation. If he is honest and is a Muslim, he will seek to make converts to Islam.

  • Zachary is the one who speaks as an insane person would.

  • Sven2547

    If he is honest and is a Muslim, he will seek to make converts to Islam.

    And yet there are countless Muslims who do not believe this to be so.

    Tell me: with what understanding, experience, citation, or expertise do you make these claims?

  • Adam Puma Borsay

    Carson elaborated later saying he would not support a Muslim who had NOT rejected sharia. Meaning in theory a self declared Muslim who had rejected sharia would be OK by him

  • Richard Poore

    Ethnically Muslim but functionally secular?? This statement fails under its own weight.

    This author also appears to be unaware of the various surveys which show that far too many otherwise law abiding followers of Islam support and condone jihadist violence and terrorism. Of the worlds billion or so Muslims tens of millions have answered that they support violence.

    Unfortunate as it may be, one of the defining aspects of Islam is that it is now the leading religion of violence in the world.

  • Brad Davis

    As a metro-Detroiter, I can assure you there is no creeping “Sharia Law” in Dearborn. Unless you think Mayor Jack O’Reilly is a closet jihadist. Where do you get such nonesense? Absolutely shameful fear-mongering.

    http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/columnists/neal-rubin/2015/02/04/ham-liquor-dearborn-sharia-law/22907225/

  • Croquet_Player

    On the contrary. I think all religions are foolish, and I said nothing about Christians. But if Ben Carson going to be an un-American bigot, I’m going to point it out. And the dead American Muslim soldier above won a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Who’s the real coward? I think it’s Carson.

  • Elvenfoot

    I’m a practicing, devout Catholic. Of course, by default I am more comfortable with a Christian president; however, in practice I’d support a president of any creed who is committed to upholding our founding documents as intended by our forefathers. America is open to people of all faiths; it is patriotism that unifies us. So, yes, in principle I would support a Muslim president if I felt he was the most qualified for the job and really seemed to believe in what this country is all about–a “real” American at heart, not just in rhetoric. But I confess I do fear that if we voted in a Muslim president, we would end up with someone who would actually support Sharia law over our American ideals and founding documents, however patriotic he seemed at first. I understand that this is prejudice and probably not fair, but that’s my honest gut fear. September 11 really affected the way I think and feel, and it’s hard to put that aside. Before that, it probably wouldn’t have occurred to me to be concerned if a Muslim was elected.

  • otrotierra

    Absolutely. And now somebody needs to tell Ben Carson and his followers about Jesus and The Greatest Commandment.

  • I’m no expert, of course. But I have read portions of the Koran (Quran) and believe them to be accurate in the claims made and the exhortations to believers. It’s the Bible I know rather than the writings of Mohammad. And the contrast is amazing. One calls for believers to love others. the other calls for death to unbelievers. One teaches love. The other the opposite.

  • Sven2547

    I’m no expert, of course.

    It shows.

    It is trivially easy to find passages supporting love, and passages supporting murder, in both the Bible and the Quran. What matters is the person, and their faculties for determining right and wrong.

  • I’m a long-time supporter of BEN CARSON. What he said is 100% right about Muslims in our government on any level. The nation will be well led if we elect BEN CARSON as our president to do whatever can be done to fix the things Obama has messed up.

  • There’s nothing good about Islam. There’s a great deal bad about it. Obama has proved himself to be at least a sympathizer and aid to Muslim governments. Obama has done little good for us and much bad for us in his terms as our President. We’ve never had a worse one.

  • Sven2547

    Obama has done little good for us and much bad for us in his terms as our President. We’ve never had a worse one.

    By what metric?

    Markets are UP
    Home buying is UP
    The budget deficit is DOWN
    Private hiring is UP
    Unemployment (and the U6) are DOWN
    Terrorism in America is DOWN
    The Bush Wars are coming the a close and the troops are coming home

    The Obama recovery outpaces the Reagan recovery in every measurable way… and you say we’ve never had a worse President?! How out-of-touch with reality are you?

  • Sven2547

    BEN CARSON

    Love the ALL-CAPS endorsement. I don’t know which is more sad: that Carson needs astroturf drones like you to advertise for him, or that he duped you into doing it for free.

  • And why would any PATRIOT want to spin it at all. Patriots will just say “AMEN.” Christians are not welcome in Dearborn, Michigan, regardless of what anyone might claim.

  • 2547 is wrong as wrong can be to say “Nobody wants Sharia (law) in the U.S.” All good Muslims do want it.

  • Sven2547

    Christians are not welcome in Dearborn, Michigan, regardless of what anyone might claim.

    When you tell easily-verifiable lies like that, it only hurts your credibility.

  • Sven2547

    All good Muslims do want it.

    It’s circular logic. You define “good Muslims” as people who want Sharia law, and then you turn around and make this claim.

    Carson’s campaign is hurt by liars like you.

  • It’s hard to believe anyone could say so much that isn’t true in such a brief note. This nation is imperiled by Obama’s policies. The sooner he’s out of office, the sooner some steps can be taken toward recovery.

  • It would be good if 2547 would take a course in political science, except that many professors who are not patriots now do the teaching.

  • I can’t speak for BEN CARSON, of course. But I can speak for myself to say that Ben is not in any way lazy or careless in his speech. He will lead the nation well!

  • Half of Dearborn is controlled by Islam. Christians are not wise to enter. They are not welcome.

  • Sven2547

    You have answered my question magnificently.

  • Sven2547

    I’m guessing you totally believed the myth about “no-go zones” in Paris, too.

  • I never lie. I question the sanity of 2547. Anyone who has seen the atrocities bragged about by Muslims would be unable to lie as 2547 does. There’s nothing good about Islam.

  • Sven2547

    I never lie.

    You just claimed that Christians aren’t welcome in Dearborn, Michigan – a city that is 89% white and mostly Christian.

  • Asemodeus

    He is a lazy con artist, nothing more.

  • I never lie. Some people are mistaken in their claims. If THEY think I’m misrepresenting truth, they’re welcome to say so. Isn’t it Dearborn where Christians sought to distribute tracts during one of their Muslim celebrations and were roughly thrown out of the Muslim part of town and told to never come back? The Christians being other residents of the same town, but not in that part which was taken over by Muslims.

  • There’s nothing lazy about BEN CARSON. He’s honest and hard working and extremely capable and sensible. We will be well served if he is elected as our next President.

  • Asemodeus

    He has been reported to have been backing hoax medical cures. Same as Huckabee.

  • Sven2547

    The story changes! We’ve gone from Christians not being welcome into Dearborn, to Christians not being welcome to distribute tracts at a Muslim celebration. Quite a difference! I wonder how welcome Muslim tracts would be at this year’s (ironically named) Values Voters Summit, hmm?

  • Steven Smith

    Why am I not not surprised that you find no moral issue with slavery? Yes, the Bible does support it, and does not even mention abortion. It also supports the idea of women and children as “owned” like cattle. Shall I go on, or are you so convinced of Christian moral superiority that those details don’t matter?

  • UnreconstructedRebel

    Like most liberals, you are biblically illiterate. The Bible, at least the NT, nowhere makes women to be chattel property, like cattle. The treatment of women (and children) in biblical times was established by the norms of the local society, e.g., the Law of Moses in ancient Israel but in the NT, Christians lived under Roman Law, which wasn’t brought under Christian influence until the 4th century.

    If God doesn’t have a moral objection to slavery, perhaps you could explain why your standard overrides His? Christianity isn’t about striving for mere moral superiority, although it certainly provides that through the righteous standards taught in the Word; its about obtaining life eternal with God, ultimately, but also about an ongoing duty to reclaim a fallen world in the name of Christ during this life. .

  • Steven Smith

    I have no problem overriding the standard of any god who sees no problem with slavery. Unlike yourself, I don’t get my moral compass from such an unenlightened point of view.

  • Steven Smith

    I hope that someday these people commenting here will see how their words are truly hateful and shamefull

  • UnreconstructedRebel

    You have neatly encapsulated, in two sentences, the real underlying root cause of the Civil War. That’s near genius level (sincerely) mastery of brevity and pithiness.

  • Steven Smith

    You make my case very well.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Tons of people are culturally Christian but functionally secular, so what is your issue?

    200 years ago Christianity would have been the “leading religion of violence in the world.”

  • Andrew Dowling

    Try google?

  • Andrew Dowling

    So no Jewish presidents because Torah would supercede the Constitution?

  • Sven2547

    Of course a Moslim cannot be American – he is a priori dedicated to antiAmerican values.

    Yeah?
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/19f4cc1c8323c356fa61bb9d99b336fc7d5621f63699e886ee1266726d502b30.jpg

  • TampaZeke

    Muslims kill homosexuals.

  • Sven2547

    Some Muslims certainly do want to kill homosexuals.
    So do some Christians.
    Heck, Mike Huckabee recently spoke at an event where one of the other speakers, right up there on stage, called for the slaying of homosexuals. Huckabee has yet to repudiate this man’s comments, to the best of my knowledge.