Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Miers and God

Cleaning out the rodent's cage, I came across a headline from a few days ago reporting that the President had stated that Miers' religious beliefs are important to the nomination. It reminded me of a Daniel Shore report I heard on the radio a few days ago, during which the inestimable Mr. Shore, who is almost invariably wrong, opined that this could run afoul of Article VI of the Constitution. He then appeared to think better of that and, without explanation, said something along the lines of, "well, maybe not." I thought that, for my light blogging today, I'd just explain why Mr. Shore's first thought was totally incorrect, and why his weasle back-off was the right thing to do. Here's what Article VI says:

All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation. 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; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding. 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.
Only people completely unfamiliar with American history or, indeed, any history (and I think our reporters have routinely displayed their ignorance in this area), would even think that this language means that the potential government officer's belief in God -- if he has one -- must be kept hidden. I don't need to spell out the freedom of worship is one of the key rights in America. No one, especially people standing for public office, should harried from pillar to post because of his religious beliefs. What Artice VI was meant to do was put a stop to a particular pernicious habit in Britain, one that extended from the 17th Century all the way up until 1828. Before 1828, the Test Act required that, as a precondition for holding civil or military office, or for receiving a university degree, the candidate had to "tak[e] the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to the Rites or Usage of the Church of England." This requirement, of course, foreclosed government service and university degrees to Dissenters, Catholics, Jews, atheists, Hindus, etc. And it was this test that Article VI was intended to end, and did end, almost forty years before they got around to doing so in England. This little bit of history establishes that Article VI was not intended to end a civil servant's right to worship publicly. It was also not meant to prevent a President from pointing to a candidate's religion to let the world understand who and what she is by demonstrating that her religious beliefs help shape the prism through which she views the world. Whether this is a strategically wise move, or whether Miers is the right person for the job is another question entirely. I just feel that it's worth a little bit of blog time to stop the ignoramuses in the MSM from spreading misinformation about our Constitution.