Conservatives Embarrassing Conservatives

Conservatives Embarrassing Conservatives January 10, 2019

Liberals and Conservatives employ a “religious test” when it suits their purposes, inflaming their base supporters by half-truths and constitutional incomprehension.

LifeNews, which bills itself as “The Pro-Life News Source,” in a piece by Micaiah Bilger took a swing at the newly sworn-in senator from Arizona, Krysten Sinema. She wasn’t holding a Bible, but a law book, for her ceremonial hand-on-book photograph with the president of the Senate.

Earlier, she and the other newly-elected and re-elected senators took the official oath together, gathered before the dais sans Bibles, and swore the oath of office administered by the vice-president as president of the Senate. Then they all queued up for individual photographs with the vice-president, typically with a Bible.

If it has not occurred to anyone, the Bible is used as a prop in a ritual photo-op (and incidentally solves the question of what to do with an otherwise unoccupied hand while the other is raised).

This has happened before. Keith Ellison, a Muslim and former House member and now Minnesota’s attorney-general, took heat when he was photographed holding a Quran. Lots of people went off on that. The general assertion was if a Muslim couldn’t use a Bible a Muslim couldn’t be in Congress. From what I know of Ellison’s politics there are many reasons he should not have been in Congress, but a religious biblical allergy wasn’t one of them.

But to read LifeNews, back to the new senator, Sinema surely made the very foundations of the Senate chamber shiver with indignation. No Bible? Horrors. It is the end of the Republic, it sure enough is.

Why is this embarrassing? Because LifeNews implicitly suggests there is, however informally, a necessary religious test for public office, one that requires use of a Bible. Given Sinema’s flamboyant positions on public policy and political life, this Bible business simply is the clincher proving she is unfit for public office. Oh, here’s another strike: Did you know she lists herself as religiously “unaffiliated”? So was Lincoln but somehow it is scarier when LifeNews describes it.

This is the same nonsense liberals pull. A federal judicial nominee is asked if he will resign his membership in the Knights of Columbus if confirmed.

“According to Senators Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Kamala Harris of California, both Democrats,” explains Crux,“the Knights’ positions on abortion and same-sex marriage could interfere with [Brian] Buescher’s ability to fairly judge the sorts of cases” that might come before federal courts. (Footnote: Senator Hirono at her ceremonial 2013 swearing-in didn’t use any book at all (see photo). How did ever vigilant LifeNews miss that?)

There have been other religious attacks on Christians. California Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein verbally molested Amy Coney Barrett, nominated to the 7th Circuit court of appeals, on the same grounds. Feinstein told her – it wasn’t a compliment – “the dogma lives loudly within you.” (Oh, you can get t-shirts with that; my wife bought one. I receive no financial consideration for this reference.)

Democrat Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois (think of a liberal pull-string doll with pre-recorded phrases) chimed in as well. He noticed, reading some of her non-judicial writings, Barrett sometimes uses the term “orthodox Catholics” and fretted, worried, really, her language might make unorthodox Catholics feel excluded.

LifeNews scrambling all over Sinema for using a law book instead of a Bible for her souvenir photograph is the same stupid thing.

Neither side remembers that pesky “religious test” clause in Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution: “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Yet Liberals and Conservatives both haul out their own “religious test” when it suits their purposes, using it to inflame their base supporters by half-truths and constitutional incomprehension.

If a religious test is unconstitutional, here’s a thought, then the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee ought to rule such questioning out of order since it has no constitutional bearing, and then see who is willing to vote against the chair’s ruling. For that matter, a brave individual senator – there must be at least one – could raise a parliamentary objection and force a ruling from the chair. This might be a better approach than shaming one’s religion or lack thereof.

I worked in politics almost a decade before becoming a Lutheran pastor. I made my living from it and enjoyed it. What I disliked most about politics then and now are the slinking hobgoblins creeping about, deliberately obscuring or twisting or omitting our history when it feeds their starving agendas. I am especially contemptuous of party zealots on either side as they mount their pet hobbyhorses and, with a hearty hi-hi-ho, ride them into an exhausted frothy lather.

Russell E. Saltzman publishes every Tuesday and Thursday at noon Central Time. He can be reached on Twitter as @RESaltzman, on Facebook as Russ Saltzman, and by email:
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