A Quick Constitution Lesson for Carson

More bigotry in the campaign.

constitution-preamble-quill-penBen Carson:

Asked whether his faith or the faith of a president should matter, Carson said, “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,” he explained, according to a transcript.

Todd then asked Carson, whose rise in the polls has been powered in large part by Christian conservatives, if he believed that “Islam is consistent with the Constitution.”

“No, I don’t, I do not,” he responded, adding, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

The US Constitution (Article VI):  ”no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Now, as a practical matter, no one who does not subscribe, at least vaguely, to Christianity is going to be elected to the presidency.  This is true because of public sentiment and preferences (and because a massive percentage of the US electorate identifies, at least vaguely, with Christianity).   I note this fact simply as that: it is empirically true.  Neither a Muslim nor an atheist or any other religious derivation one can conjure other than Christianity has a shot at the White House.  None of that, however, justifies treating Muslims as if they cannot serve in office because of their faith (or that somehow said faith is un-American–which will come as shock to the millions of Muslims Americans who are law abiding citizens living their lives like everyone else).

Indeed, there are only really two reasons (which are not mutually exclusive) for a candidate such as Carson (or Trump in a different manifestation earlier this week) to engage in this type of discussion:  personal bigotry and/or the cynical manipulation of bigotry in the electorate.

This is just another example of what is shaping up to be one of the more overtly racist/xenophobic campaign seasons we have seen in some time.  First we had (and continue to have) Trump’s racism directed towards Mexicans specifically and Latinos more broadly (not to mention some xenophobia in the way he discusses China), but now we have we have a round of generic rhetorical attacks on Muslims which now two candidates are fueling.

This is disturbing, all the more so that these two candidates currently lead the GOP field.

(And, I would note that after events in Irving, TX this week, it would be nice if people who aspire to be leaders would be trying to tamp down bigotry rather than trying to fuel it).

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This is disturbing,

    This is America Steven, where xenophobia runs a mile wide and an inch deep, just below the thin veneer of the 14th Amendment.

  2. Mark Ivey says:

    Grifter gotta say what the rubes wanna hear so they can be fleeced..

  3. NW-Steve says:

    @Mark Ivey:

    Unfortunately, I’m inclined to think that he really believes this stuff. That makes him much more dangerous than a mere grifter.

  4. Facebones says:

    I wonder. How many candidates actually believe the nonsense they’re spouting? And how many realize that they’re playing to a deeply racist core constituency and are just saying what they want to hear?

  5. Mikey says:

    (And, I would note that after events in Irving, TX this week, it would be nice if people who aspire to be leaders would be trying to tamp down bigotry rather than trying to fuel it).

    Ha! If only. Have you heard the latest codswallop coming out of the cesspool American conservatism has become? That whole clock thing is a nefarious Muslim plot to curry sympathy and lower people’s guard so the evil Kenyan Muslim black guy in the White House can bring hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees into America, each and every one of whom is a potential terrorist.

    One conservative acquaintance of mine went so far as to suggest this was a “probe” to make it easier to get an actual bomb into a school. I wish I were joking.

  6. DrDaveT says:

    Now, as a practical matter, no one who does not subscribe, at least vaguely, to Christianity is going to be elected to the presidency.

    In 2016? You’re absolutely right.

    On the other hand, it was only an historical eyeblink ago that you could have said the same thing about the chances of electing a black man, or a woman. The election of the first Muslim or Buddhist or Jew will be a watershed moment in America’s growth. The (later) election of the first self-avowed atheist will be another.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    Evangelicals treat the Constitution like they treat the Bible – with no respect at all.

  8. Lenoxus says:

    Now, as a practical matter, no one who does not subscribe, at least vaguely, to Christianity is going to be elected to the presidency.

    I’m an atheist and don’t entirely disagree… but what about nominally-Jewish, “not particularly religious” (in his words) Bernie Sanders? Is he truly 100% unelectable? I admit that the possibility is a stumbling block to my supporting him as the Democratic nominee, but it’s not a dealbreaker so long as I find it reasonable to suppose it’s not a dealbreaker for a strict majority of Americans.

  9. bill says:

    y’all are racists- now see how that sounds? dr. ben is going nowhere- no need to get your panties in a bunch.

  10. Kylopod says:

    In 2000, Lieberman was on a ticket that won the popular vote. Of course that doesn’t prove a Jew could win on the top of the ticket, but maybe it isn’t as far fetched as you make it sound.

  11. DrDaveT says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Evangelicals treat the Constitution like they treat the Bible – with no respect at all.

    Nah, it’s more complicated than that. In both cases, the parts they pay attention to are the most important thing there is, and the parts they ignore don’t count at all.

    What distinguishes the 9743 flavors of Evangelical Protestants is which random bits they venerate and which bits they dismiss.

  12. @Lenoxus: In honesty, I don’t see Bernie as ultimately electable, but the religion angle is not the main reason (but it doesn’t help).

  13. @bill: Your flippancy on this topic does not speak well of you, I have to say.

  14. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: And it’s not been speaking well of him for years!

  15. RIght wing extremist says:

    90% of all Americans would not vote for a Muslim. Carson just has the honesty to admit it.

    Yes, the Constitution says that no religious test can be required, but an individual voter can based his or her vote on whatever criteria they chose.

    This is a Judeo-Christian nation. Electing a Muslim would be wholly inconsistent with our ethos. I would not vote for a Muslim — what does that make me?

    1) honest
    2) Islamophobic (yes, I do fear Islam)

  16. @RIght wing extremist:

    Islamophobic (yes, I do fear Islam)

    And therein lies to core of bigotry–irrational fear that leads to prejudging sans any evidence save a characteristic that one fears.

    And, of course, this fear is based not on an understanding of a religion or of the behavior of 1.5 billion people, but rather on the behavior of radicals.

    This is emotionalism, not reason.

  17. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    A quick Constitutional lesson for Dr Joyner:

    The Constitution says that there can be no legal barrier to the presidency based on religion. It says nothing about what are permissible attitudes, prejudices, and opinions that individuals can bring into the ballot booth with them.

    There is nothing unconstitutional about saying “I will not vote for someone based on their religion.”

    Nor is there in saying that “the tenets of a specific faith are antithetical to the United States Constitution, and we should not elect an adherent of that faith to the presidency.”

    Carson did not say that Muslims should be banned from the ballot, which would violate the Constitution. And as Islam explicitly rejects the notion of a separation of church and state, and commands that the tenets of Islam should be the highest law, he has a point.

    I don’t hear a great deal of difference between what Dr. Carson said and what I have read here regularly from several of the commenters, who say that people like Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, or Mitt Romney should not be elected because of their religious beliefs.

  18. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I don’t hear a great deal of difference between what Dr. Carson said and what I have read here regularly from several of the commenters, who say that people like Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, or Mitt Romney should not be elected because of their religious beliefs.

    Your deafness is not our fault. If you seriously can’t hear the difference between “[This individual] has beliefs that should not be allowed to hold office” and “No adherent of [this religion] should be allowed to hold office”, you need to get your ears cleaned.

  19. Kylopod says:

    @RIght wing extremist:

    90% of all Americans would not vote for a Muslim.

    According to Gallup’s most recent poll, 60% of Americans say they would be willing to vote for a Muslim–only 38% say no.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/183713/socialist-presidential-candidates-least-appealing.aspx

    Granted, polls like this aren’t perfectly predictive of how people actually would vote, but that 90% figure which you plucked out of thin air is unlikely to be accurate; you’re projecting.

    In any case, these things change over time. Gallup has been taking this poll since 1937, and it wasn’t that long ago that the percentage who said they wouldn’t vote for a Jew, a black, or a woman was far higher than the measly 38% who say they wouldn’t support a Muslim today.

  20. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @DrDaveT:I think it’s a matter of your own deafness. Here’s Carson’s exact quote:

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

    Just where did you get Carson saying that Muslims should not “be allowed” to be president? I heard him saying they should not be elected, not that they should be banned from the ballot.

  21. @Jenos Idanian #13: You are splitting hairs in defense of bigotry plain and simple.

    You are correct: he did not call for a de jure ban, but essentially called for a de facto one by basically stating that Islam is un-American and not consistent with the Constitution. He quite clearly is speaking against the spirit of Article VI–and as a candidate for the highest office in the land.

    Why defend this?

  22. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I heard him saying they should not be elected, not that they should be banned from the ballot.

    I didn’t say “banned from the ballot”. If it makes you happier, substitute your preferred “should not be elected” phrase. You’re still conflating objection to individuals with bigotry against entire religions, however you phrase it.

  23. Mikey says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Why defend this?

    Because he has to make it be other than what it obviously is.

    Most people don’t want to acknowledge their prejudices. They want to be good people, they want to be perceived as good people. They don’t want to know they are promoting bigotry. So they take statements like Carson’s, which to any reasonably objective observer fly in the face of the spirit of the Constitution, and try to make them something else. Because if they acknowledge the truth, they must also acknowledge the truth about themselves.

    We’re seeing the same thing with the clock incident in Texas. It’s a fraud, it’s a setup by Muslim activists, it’s an attempt to make us feel guilty about not wanting Syrian refugees, it’s anything but what it actually was: an inference drawn and acted upon because the kid’s name is Mohamed.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: The stupid. It hurts.

  25. Gavin says:

    @Mikey:

    Good point.

    As well, Loretta Lynch should be directed to indict the teachers, principal and cops that falsely accused said kid for the crime of deprivation of rights under color of law or authority (18 USC 242), a federal offense.

    The school and its staff had no belief that an actual bomb was present. Why? They did not evacuate the school, they sat with the alleged “bomb” and the kid, they then invited the cops into said school with the device and kid still present and the bomb squad (or EOD) was not called out.

    If the school and its staff had any reason to believe there was an actual explosive device their first duty would be to evacuate the building and get everyone, including themselves, away from the bomb — not sit with it and leave everyone in the building exposed to serious injury or death.

    The cops involved also knew the entire thing was a lie. They not only failed to call the bomb squad they also took the kid and the clock in an ordinary cop car through town and to the station. Same deal here: If there was any reasonable suspicion that an actual bomb was present they would have called the bomb squad and/or EOD.

    Since none of that happened the only logical conclusion is that everyone involved knew with certainty that there was no bomb. They didn’t think there might be one but probably wasn’t (because then you’d still evacuate and call the bomb squad) – rather, they knew from the start that there was no explosive device.

    That makes their acts intentional – and deserving of time behind bars.
    You can’t prevent racist thought, but you can make people think twice before pulling racist acts such as this one.

  26. gVOR08 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: If, when speaking of the Muslim faith, Dr. Carson believes, “the tenets of a specific faith are antithetical to the United States Constitution”, we may infer he believes Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Andre Carson (D-IN) should not have been elected. Or is this only a presidential thing?

  27. gVOR08 says:

    @gVOR08: I should have added that Ellison has taken to carrying a clock around the Capitol. Good man.

  28. Lenoxus says:

    @Gavin: I hate being racists’ advocate, because I agree that Islamophobia/racism drove the whole thing. But in point of fact, the accusation from the start was that Ahmed had built a hoax bomb to scare people, which would be against school rules on the same grounds as a prank-call bomb threat. They were stupid to think that was the case, and it was probably still extreme to bring in the police and question him for hours, but the lack of evacuation isn’t as damning as it seems at first.

  29. Mikey says:

    @Gavin: As @Lenoxus commented, the school didn’t believe it was an actual bomb, but a “hoax bomb.”

    This is the basis of some of the nonsense I’ve seen on the right, that it was some kind of ruse meant to raise sympathy or even as a “probe” to see how easy it might be to get an actual bomb into a school. The latter is especially silly considering any bomber would not be showing the bomb to his engineering teacher first.

  30. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: So, it’s “splitting hairs” to actually discuss what he said, and not what those who are invested in making him look bad say he said? “Are you gonna believe me, or your lying eyes?”

    Carson said they should not be elected. That means that they should not be voted in, which implies that they are on the ballot in the first place. If Carson wanted to say that they should be banned from the ballot, he would have said so.

  31. @Jenos Idanian #13: You are free to persist in your bigoted position. Yes, I am being blunt, but I really have no patience for this and know full well you are not persuadable.

  32. Lenoxus says:

    This is the basis of some of the nonsense I’ve seen on the right, that it was some kind of ruse meant to raise sympathy

    Good lord, that’s sufficiently circular it could excuse anything. “You tricked us into profiling you by taking advantage of how predictable our profiling you would be!”

    It’s just like the comment here that suggested that the Trump audience member who got him to agree we need to get rid of Muslims was a plant. Even if he was a plant, so what? Even if Ahmed’s secret scheme was to make a fake bomb to expose racists (and specifically, to show them to be racist by acting totally unlike a terrorist, telling everyone it’s just a clock, etc), so what? That just makes it a test they failed.

    Now, if they’re accusing the school of conspiring with the kid — that the apparent bigots were actually just pretending, just to “make Islamophobia look bad” (?) — that’s another story. An even more absurd idea, but less pathetic a charge, kind of.

  33. Pinky says:

    Jenos is right, and this isn’t even a close call.

    A “A person shouldn’t eat crackers in bed.”
    B “A person shouldn’t be allowed to eat crackers in bed.”
    C “The Constitution forbids people from eating crackers in bed.”

    A is a judgment call, but it’s a statement I’d consider true, because crumbs are inimical to the purpose of the bed.

    B is nutty, because it assumes an extension of the law that would have far-reaching consequences. It’s a standard idea in Western jurisprudence that a lot of things may be bad ideas, but still shouldn’t be against the law.

    C is false. No one’s making that argument, unless there is something more to the original quote than in the excerpt.

    A =/= B
    B =/= C

  34. @Pinky: You are certainly entitled to your opinion on the subject.

    Of course, this isn’t about eating crackers in bed, it is declaring that all adherents to a specific religion ought not hold a public office.

    Again: why defend this?

  35. Seriously: your attempt at sanitizing this situation requires using an example about an annoying snacking practice in place of a bigoted statement about an entire religion.

  36. How is the following not a bigoted response?

    Todd then asked Carson, whose rise in the polls has been powered in large part by Christian conservatives, if he believed that “Islam is consistent with the Constitution.”
    “No, I don’t, I do not,”

  37. Pinky says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Why should I defend someone from a false accusation? Seriously?

  38. @Pinky: Defend the statements he made. He is stating that Islam is inconsistent with the Constitution and that any Muslim in the US is not fit for office (at least the presidency).

    Do you defend this position?

    Do you feel this position is in keeping with the spirit of Article VI?

  39. Pinky says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: If I said that your objection to Carson’s statement was against the spirit of the First Amendment, you’d recognize that as nonsensical. The First Amendment doesn’t require us to accept all speech as equal. Likewise, you can’t say that Carson’s position violates the spirit of Article VI. Everyone is free to decide who they’ll vote for using any means they wish.

  40. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:
    I think it is who you choose your time defending that is being questioned. There are no end of false accusations out there, several of them espoused by Dr Carson himself, yet you don’t seem to feel the need to defend the targets of those false accusations. For example, on this very topic you could have defended Muslims from Carson’s false accusation that they are not fit for public office. You chose instead to make a semantic defense of Carson’s statement. Why did you chose one and not the other?*

    * You could, of course, have chosen to do both, but only one seemed to bother you enough to merit a response.

  41. Pinky says:

    @Grewgills: Ben’s not making false allegations on this site.

  42. Pinky says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I’m thinking about this, and it sounds like a fun game. It’ll be the Spirit of the Constitution meme. It’s in the spirit of the Constitution to:

    insist that soldiers sleep outside
    treat people from larger states with less respect
    create a District of Columbia
    take away people’s alcohol and then give it back to them

    Everyone can play!

  43. Pinky says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: And actually, I’d be fine with this article if it had been called “I Don’t Like This”. But the title of it, and the implied rebuttal of Carson by the Constitution, is where I had a problem.

  44. @Pinky: You seem to want to do everything but actually address what Carson said and deal with its implications.

    BTW: the specific allegation that I made is that Carson is being bigoted against Muslims by his statement. How is this not that case?

    How is the following not a bigoted view?

    Todd then asked Carson, whose rise in the polls has been powered in large part by Christian conservatives, if he believed that “Islam is consistent with the Constitution.”
    “No, I don’t, I do not,”

    These are very direct questions that do not require analogies about crackers or side question to answer.

    If you wish to defend Carson against these allegations, please do so.

    I never accused him of seeking to ban Muslims from the ballot, so if you want to argue with what I said, argue with what I said.

  45. @Pinky: I think he needs a lesson in a key component of our constitutional system, i.e., that there is no religious test for office.

    How is this problematic?

  46. Dave Francis says:

    You cannot trust the affluent 1 percent that influence our politics, the dynasties as the Bush’s and Clinton’s and YOU can name your own? It’s paramount we don’t miss this chance go by, in not standing with a tough man who takes no BS from anybody and that’s Donald Trump. I cannot see Carly or the majority of the other former Governors, except Senator Ted Cruz battling in Congress for the peoples rights with any strength? Trump will take no nonsense and closed down any probability of illegal aliens granted a path to citizenship. As for Bernie Saunders, the Marxist-socialist our welfare system will be worthless, because not only illegal aliens be financially supported, but millions of ‘Deadbeats’ who live amongst the hard working Americans will also be dead weight on our society.

    With anybody than Trump as President, everything will remain the same? The Leftist and corporate media are doing their level best to undermine Trump run for the Oval Office. Special interests will buy the loyalty of the politicians on top. Mexico, China and Japan along with others foreign governments will buy the loyalty of Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton and with them illegal immigrants will keep pouring through our porous border, without Trumps wall or harsh enforcement. With trumps expert knowledge of management and business, he will balance the so called playing field in commerce and clean out the rot.

    E-Verify will remain optional, instead of MANDATORY. The level of benefits for illegal aliens will go from over $100 billion and upwards. Obamacare will remain the same and insurance companies will monopolize each state they thrive in, with no has interstate commerce of health care. Trump will reveal the moral corruption that arrives in the beltway daily with lobbyists hands full checkbooks and hidden accounts. They will be ready to move unknown amounts of dollars in the private bank accounts or safe deposits in foreign countries, like the Jersey Islands near Britain and the Cayman Islands, where the IRS has no authority. Superior Businessman Trump will demand countries as Saudi Arabia will pay their fair share in oil royalties to stabilize risky regions, as in the Gulf War where America took out Iraqi bad guys and got zero in return.

    trump will handle Iran with an iron hand and not with Obama or Kerry feather tickling that radicals in Tehran. Under King Obama we have not only become the laughing stock of the world, but disingenuous dictators think we have become a nation of debtors and pussycats? Mark my words Israel is NOT and this administration may think the can control our middle eastern ally, but one bad move from Iran and nothing will be left in a short space of time?

    The Vets will remain 2 class citizens and the owners of America will continue to make massive profits. I personally will wash my hands on the corruption that is alive and well in Washington, going about my days and forget about the whole obnoxious mess that is Washington. I don’t trust the GOP establishment or Democrats; what’s left? Individually it will probably not be worth voting, as not only do citizens vote, but non citizens illegally vote as well. We have a huge problem in the US, a good many people cannot read or write and their education standard is way behind the rest of the world. It’s a shame that millions of American people have no conception of the verbal diarrhea that emanates from the career entrenched hierarchy? I want absolutely nothing to do with Rigged Politics, and it will be easy to recognize that the American People cannot win? The SILENT ONES who don’t normally vote, will go back to surviving the best way they can?

  47. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:
    Dr Carson made false allegations that were highlighted on this site.
    You seem to be taking great umbrage to the title of the post that, to use your own favorite tactic, never explicitly states that Carson doesn’t understand the constitution or that he explicitly advocates a religious test for inclusion on any ballot. The body of the article never states or implies that Carson makes such a claim. What the article does do is point out the nativism, xenophobia, and bigotry inherent to Carson’s statements. You and Jenos feel the need to attack position that you feel was implied by the title of Dr Taylor’s article even though it was never stated in the title or the article. You do this to the complete exclusion of dealing with the plain meaning of what Dr Carson actually said. It all feels like a smoke screen to focus on a rhetorical point against a straw man version of Dr Taylor’s argument to distract from a very real criticism of what Dr Carson actually said. You have been repeatedly shown what Carson said and what Dr Taylor’s actual criticism was, yet each time you retreat to your semantic argument with a straw man version of Dr Taylor’s argument. Why is it you feel the need to defend Carson and feel no need to defend the people he defamed?

  48. Pinky says:

    @Grewgills: You’re right that I jumped the gun on that. Steven’s subsequent comments indicate that he’s failing to make the distinction between good judgment and Constitutional text, but he didn’t state that clearly in the article itself. I addressed this in the comment above: @Pinky

  49. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: <i<How is this problematic?

    It’s problematic in that your basic argument is, essentially, “pay no attention to what he actually said; instead listen to what I think he meant.”

    He expressed an opinion little different than I have read here, many times. Except he specified Islam, whereas the regulars here usually specify specific forms of Christianity.

    To the left, Obama is an ideal Christian. He will say he is a Christian when asked, or when it’s expedient to proclaim it, but otherwise rarely talks about it and virtually never acts upon it. I think the last time I recall Obama discussing Christianity, it was in the context of the Crusades, and he seemed almost ashamed of his faith.

  50. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: BTW, you’re in good company. CAIR agrees with you that Carson needs lecturing on the Constitution, and has no business running for president.

    That would be the same CAIR that was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial for terrorism support, and whose founder declared that “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth. ”

    Too bad Mr. Ahmad was born in Jordan. Otherwise, he would be fully qualified to run for president.

  51. Lenoxus says:

    The question of whether Islam is “consistent with the Consitution” raises the equally important question of whether Christianity is. Let’s find out!

    Luke 20, verses 22-25:

    So the spies questioned him… “Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” [Jesus] perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

    U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8

    The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.

    Well, that’s close enough for government work.

    Deuteronomy 13, verses 12-15

    If you hear in one of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you to dwell there, that certain worthless fellows have gone out among you and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” gods which you have not known, then you shall inquire and make search and ask diligently. And behold, if it be true and certain that such an abomination has been done among you, you shall surely put the inhabitants of that city to the sword, devoting it to destruction, all who are in it and its cattle, with the edge of the sword.

    United States Constitution, Amendment 1:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Hmm, not looking so good. How about one more?

    Leviticus 25, verses 44-46:

    Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9:

    The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

    Jackpot!

    So, on the whole, Christianity is at least vaguely compatible with the Constitution.

    There was also a bunch of stuff in the Bible about worshipping God, loving sinners, giving to the poor and sick, and frying sinners forever and ever in hell, whereas the Constitution focused mainly on the mechanics of elections, jury trials, and such. On the whole, not much overlap.

  52. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:
    Again, you regularly parse down to individual words to defend the statements of republican or conservative to explain that the statement of the moment didn’t technically mean anything bigoted or xenophobic. Despite that very clear pattern you read in implications when Steven talks both about the Constitution prohibiting a religious test and Dr Carson’s statements that, while not explicitly endorsing a state sponsored religious test, are bigoted against Muslims. Dr Carson’s statements are clearly about a religious test that he feels is entirely appropriate for individuals to apply to those running for public office.
    You continue to be upset by the implications you feel were made by Dr Taylor and add the additional red herring of some people supposedly advocating an analogous religious test vs certain sects of christians. A couple of points leap out here. You have not shown that some here advocate a similar de facto religious test for certain sects of christianity. I think you take this as a given. Even if I accept at face value that some people on here may apply a personal religious test to apostolic christians (or similarly conservative sects): 1) they aren’t running for president and 2) they aren’t suggesting applying that religious test to all christians. If Dr Carson had said that he didn’t think that strict wahabists beliefs are compatible with the constitution there would have been considerably less stink than labeling the beliefs of all Muslims incompatible with the constitution. Your analogies are weak false equivalencies and you still haven’t called out Dr Carson’s statement as bigoted. By the time we have gotten this far down and you have commented as many times as you have, each time studiously avoiding addressing the meat of what Dr Carson said, I can only conclude that either you agree with his bigoted view or you are only concerned with scoring points in a semantic debate.

  53. Pinky says:

    @Grewgills:

    You continue to be upset by the implications you feel were made by Dr Taylor and add the additional red herring of some people supposedly advocating an analogous religious test vs certain sects of christians.

    What do you mean? I don’t follow this.

  54. @Pinky: I think he is conflating you with Jenos Idanian #13:

    I don’t hear a great deal of difference between what Dr. Carson said and what I have read here regularly from several of the commenters, who say that people like Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, or Mitt Romney should not be elected because of their religious beliefs.

    However, apart from that, I agree with his assessment, especially:

    I can only conclude that either you agree with his bigoted view or you are only concerned with scoring points in a semantic debate.

  55. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:

    What do you mean? I don’t follow this.

    Apologies, I accidentally conflated one of Jenos’ posts with yours. The first part applies to you.

    You continue to be upset by the implications you feel were made by Dr Taylor

    You continued to defend Dr Carson against arguments that were never made, but you felt were implied by the title of Dr Taylor’s post for several posts after it was pointed out to you that you were arguing against something he never said.
    The second bit was directed at an argument by Jenos that I mistakenly attributed to you. He was the one with the red herring about a supposed equivalence by left wing commenters here.
    I apologize for putting his words in your mouth (at your fingertips)

  56. Grewgills says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    and Dr Taylor beat me to it

  57. Grewgills says:

    @Grewgills:
    The second paragraph of this comment should have been directed to Jenos.

    Again, apologies to Pinky for conflating their arguments.

  58. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Lenoxus: I’m trying to decide if you’re ignorant of the Bible, or being deliberately obtuse. I’ll grant you ignorance.

    Your example from Deuteronomy was God’s directive to the ancient Israelites on how to govern the land God had given them.

    And Leviticus? You seem to be unaware of the origin of the name of that Book. “Leviticus” means “relating to the Levites,” or the first Israelites. Those are the rules God laid out for the early Israelites for establishing the Holy Land. And slavery was a fact of life in those days.

    Again, we aren’t Levites, and this isn’t the Holy Land.

    But why don’t you ask these questions of people who loudly and proudly proclaim their Christian faith? People like President Obama, Vice President Biden, former Senate Majority Leader Reid, or former Speaker Pelosi? They’ve spent a lot more time and energy in proclaiming their faith than I ever have.

  59. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    I’m honestly curious at this point, are you defending Carson because you support his position that judaism and christianity are compatible with the constitution and islam is not, therefor we should elect christians to higher office and not muslims, or is this just some sort of banal point scoring effort for a game you are playing in your head?

  60. Kylopod says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    [Obama] will say he is a Christian when asked, or when it’s expedient to proclaim it, but otherwise rarely talks about it

    Okay, let’s see….

    “And I’m grateful not only because I was broke and the church fed me, but because it led to everything else. It led me to embrace Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior…. It led me to public service. And the longer I serve, especially in moments of trial or doubt, the more thankful I am of God’s guiding hand.” — Obama, National Prayer Breakfast, 2014

    “In these sacred days, those of us as Christians remember the tremendous sacrifice Jesus made for each of us –- how, in all His humility and His grace, He took on the sins of the world and extended the gift of salvation. And we recommit ourselves to following His example –- to loving the Lord our God with all our hearts and all our souls and with all our minds, and to loving our neighbors as ourselves.” — Obama, Easter Prayer Breakfast, 2013

    “It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose – His purpose.” — Obama, National Prayer Breakfast, 2009

    “And it was through that experience working with pastors and laypeople trying to heal the wounds of hurting neighborhoods that I came to know Jesus Christ for myself and embrace Him as my lord and savior.” — Obama, National Prayer Breakfast, 2011

    “‘Let the little children come to me,’ Jesus said, ‘and do not hinder them — for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'” — Obama, remarks at Sandy Hook Interfaith Prayer Vigil, 2012

    “Perhaps because I witnessed all of the good works their faith inspired them to perform, I found myself drawn not just to the work with the church; I was drawn to be in the church. It was through this service that I was brought to Christ.” — Obama, commencement address at University of Notre Dame, 2009

    I am sure your reply to all this will be that most of these were National Prayer Breakfasts, and therefore Obama was only saying this stuff “because it’s expedient.”

    But guess what? Using a nifty site called PresidentialRhetoric.com, which collects the transcripts of speeches by US presidents, I found that hardly any of George W. Bush’s speeches even mention Jesus. In fact, Bush tended to keep his remarks of a religious nature fairly generic and universal. Not that there’s anything wrong with that–I frankly prefer it that way. But it’s pretty amazing to me that Bush is still seen as the more authentically religious of the two.

    I think the last time I recall Obama discussing Christianity, it was in the context of the Crusades, and he seemed almost ashamed of his faith.

    I am not a Christian, but I am a religious person, and I can say with full frankness that I found his remarks in that speech beautiful and insightful. He spoke about faith and doubt, about respect between people of different faiths, about the importance of church-state separation in a religiously diverse society, and about the tremendous good that has been done in the name of Christianity and other religions, as well as the tremendous evil.

    “In a way that is more subtle but no less cruel, we also see religion as the cause of violence when force is used by the defenders of one religion against others…. As a Christian I want to say at this point: yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith. We acknowledge it with great shame. But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature.”

    Oops! Looks like I mixed up my notes a little. That isn’t Obama, it’s Pope Benedict.

    Obama did not use the word “shame” anywhere in the speech where you accuse him of sounding ashamed of his faith, and frankly, neither he nor the Pope expressed any shame at being Christian, just shame at some of the abominable acts committed by self-described Christians throughout history. Anyone who equates those two things is not professing the sort of faith I have any interest in–and I don’t care if that person is Christian, Jewish, or anything else. I found Obama’s thoughts far deeper and more spiritual than anything I’ve heard from the Republican candidates who are constantly trying to out-Jesus each other. They are the ones who seem ashamed of their faith. People secure in their beliefs do not need to constantly remind others of their superiority.

  61. Lenoxus says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I wonder if it has ever occurred to Dr. Carson or the other anti-Muslim people that Muslims might have some reasonably well-developed apologetics for their faith against its worst criticisms, too.

    It happens I wasn’t too impressed by your defenses of Biblical genocide and slavery. (You concede that God really was the commander of those things, but I’m supposed to be swayed by the fact that it was only the one time?) But that’s actually incidental to my main point, which is that it’s absurd to decide Muslims are just plain unfit for office because they are “supposed to believe” horrible thing X, Y, and Z, but Christians are qualified because the apparent bad stuff needs context and it was all in the past, etc.

    Unless what Carson had in mind was a view not that a Muslim president would believe/do nasty Muslim things, but that the President simply must consider Jesus his lord and savior, which is an entirely different conversation.

    By the way, as far as I know none of us liberals in the room thinks Christianity, even evangelical, is a reason to vote against someone. Our objections to certain conservative Christians is against the conservative part, which they have chosen to wrap in their Christianity. If Carson said he didn’t think the presidency should be held by a pro-sharia-law Muslim, or a Muslim who would raise taxes or whatever, that would be more reasonable.

  62. An important issue here is that there is no reason for Carson to make the proclamation save to buy into/foment (or both) irrational fear of Islam.

    Why not be polite about it? Why not say something kind about millions of fellow Americans? Why not adhere to the allegedly conservative value of looking at the individual?

    The reason I even keep having this conversation is that I really want defenders to come to term with what is going on here. I know that racism and xenophobia were not just recently introduced into American politics, but it is more blatant this cycle than it has been in some time.

  63. If Carson had said “I don’t think Islam should be practiced in America” or “I don’t think Muslims should publish web sites” or “I don’t think Muslims ought to speak in public” he would not be calling for legal strictures against Muslims, but he would still be speaking out in a way that ran counter to key political rights detailed in the Constitution. He would be aligning himself with anti-Muslim bigotry.

    What he has done here is more specific but in the same category.

    And really, all of this is rooted in fear and sloppy thinking: it assumes that radical Islamists=Islam (this problem should be obvious, but alas…).

    I don’t want a member of Westboro Baptist Church in the presidency. However, I don’t leap to stating that Christianity is incompatible with the constitution.

    This really isn’t complicated (or shouldn’t be).

  64. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yes, I am being blunt, but I really have no patience for this and know full well you are not persuadable.

    And if I may be equally blunt, I don’t see much use of discussing it with you. I’m willing o discuss what was actually said; you insist on discussing what you want to believe he really meant. Which is your own prejudice speaking, and I can’t argue you out of your bigotries.

    (BTW, I’m dumping that #13. I had some major technical issues and had to reinstall Firefox, so I lost a ton of settings and whatnot — including that. Still me, though.)

  65. @Jenos Idanian:

    Still me, though

    Indeed.

  66. @Jenos Idanian:

    I’m willing o discuss what was actually said

    I would note that I have repeatedly quoted him above. I have not seen you actually explain why you are defending it. Indeed, as per usual, much of what you have said in the thread above is not about the matter at hand.

  67. And both you and Pinky are utterly ignoring that the person who brought up the Constitution was Carson himself:

    But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the constitution, no problem,

    As such, it is hardly unreasonable to bring up Article VI.

  68. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: As such, it is hardly unreasonable to bring up Article VI.

    Yes, let’s bring up Article VI. Right before the part you’re homing in on:

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land;

    Under the tenets of Islam, the laws of Islam are supreme. And the Muslims to which Dr. Carson was referring to agree with that — the laws of Islam are superior to the laws of Man, even the United States Constitution.

    Carson said that he did not think that people should vote for people who hold to those tenets of Islam. He did not say that they should be barred from the ballot. Hell, he implicitly said that they should be allowed on the ballot; you can’t refuse to vote for someone who isn’t on the ballot.

    And I’m sure it wouldn’t take much digging to find comments here where people said that Santorum or Huckabee should be elected president, based on their evangelical beliefs. And I also recall a few arguments that Pat Robertson should be barred from running for president based on the Separation of Church and State argument.

    Did you properly denounce those comments?

  69. @Jenos Idanian: Those are the same kinds of arguments made against Catholics when JFK–which were wrong then and are wrong now.

    Feel free to find me a presidential candidate who made those allegedly claims about Roberston, et al and I will happily denounce. Indeed, it should be clear what my position would be on such claims.

    And again: you are not dealing directly with the matter at hand.

  70. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: What would you consider the issue at hand — what you say Carson said, but what he didn’t?

    I find it hard to disagree with what he actually said (and not what you pretend he said) — any strict adherent to Islam should not be elected to the presidency, as a strict adherence to Islam is fundamentally incompatible with our Constitution.

    I also thought it would have been very bad for Pat Robertson to be elected.

    But I would not advocate blocking them from appearing on the ballot, which is what you seem to be arguing that Carson said. Or said in Super-Secret Dog Whistle Code. Or meant in his heart of hearts, but didn’t dare say. Or something like that.

  71. @Jenos Idanian:

    Those are the same kinds of arguments made against Catholics when JFK–which were wrong then and are wrong now.

    (Plus, to make your “argument” you have to modify and qualify what he said).

  72. @Jenos Idanian: Two other points:

    1) The notion that to a Muslim Islam is supreme: Christians think that the Bible is supreme (see, e.g., arguments some evangelicals are currently making over SSM). That’s what religion is: a system that asserts to have special knowledge of the truth. The issue is, therefore, not banning persons of a given religion from office, but finding out how that person will behave in office. If a religious candidate states that they will use military force to enforce laws they think contravene those of his religion, for example, best not to vote for that person as they cannot adequately sort out their secular and spiritual obligations.

    2) The whole talk about Pat Robertson illustrates the point–that is an argument against a specific candidate, not an argument that all evangelical Christians should never occupy the White House.

    To say “all X” is bigoted and prejudicial.

    To say “not this specific person” is a very different discussion.

    This really isn’t all that difficult.

    I find it hard to disagree with what he actually said

    So back to blunt: that’s because you are bigoted against Muslims. I say this based on years of reading your comments, including in this thread. This is not about “Super-Secret Dog Whistle Code” it is about saying that millions of citizens should be excluded from an aspect public life based on one shared characteristic that you don’t like and, further, a specific interpretation of that characteristic. It is also about giving religions you like/can tolerate a pass that you aren’t willing to give to Islam.

    How much clearer can you get: Muslims need not apply. (Because Muslims, ultimately, can’t be real Americans like the rest of us–they aren’t loyal. They can’t love American like you do, etc.).

  73. Monala says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Under the tenets of Islam, the laws of Islam are supreme. And the Muslims to which Dr. Carson was referring to agree with that — the laws of Islam are superior to the laws of Man, even the United States Constitution.

    Carson said that he did not think that people should vote for people who hold to those tenets of Islam.

    Is that so? Then by his own standards, Carson is unqualified to run for president, because he thinks that in some contexts, the Bible should take precedence over the Constitution. When asked by Chuck Todd, “Does Does the Bible have a authority over the US Constitution?”, he answered:

    “That is not a simple question by any stretch of the imagination,” Carson, retired neurosurgeon retorted.

    “I think probably what you have to do is ask a very specific question about a specific passage of the Bible and a specific portion of the Constitution,” Carson added. “I don’t think you can answer that question other than out of very specific contexts.”

  74. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Under the tenets of Islam, the laws of Islam are supreme. And the Muslims to which Dr. Carson was referring to agree with that — the laws of Islam are superior to the laws of Man, even the United States Constitution.

    Much as Kim Davis believes the Bible supersedes the 14th Amendment. And she had the whole raft of GOP candidates rallying to her defense, even showing up to stand with her.