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Friday, 20 March 2009

Religious Test for Office Revisited

In an earlier post, I invoked the clause "religious test of office" in reference to the editorial policies of a scientific journal. Of course, the original application of the phrase was to the Test Acts enacted by the British Parliament in the aftermath of The Gunpowder Plot, the 17th century version of 9/11. Since Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were all Catholics, it was thought that eliminating Catholics from public office would help to protect the country from terrorists.

The Test Act of 1673 required the following oath of all public officials:

"I, __, do declare that I do believe that there is not any transubstantion in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, or in the elements of the bread and wine, at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsovever."

The oath was later greatly embellished in hopes of catching all superstitious Catholics in addition to just the honest ones. But no one could ever figure out an oath that would suffice to entrap the Catholics who were both good at lying about their deeply held beliefs, and not afraid of any penalty for doing so. And so The Test fell out of favor.

But The Religious Test for office still works to exclude from public office those who are openly opposed the the State Religion, as well as those who refuse to take the Oath of Loyalty for any reason whatsoever.

So, The Test of Office has now been reduced to how one responds when asked "The Question" in a media interview.

As reported in Little Green Footballs, Phil Plait recently had this to say about Canadian Science Minister Gary Goodyear's refusal to answer The Question in a religiously appropriate matter:

"Religion is irrelevant only if it doesn’t affect the job."

Of course. And nobody wants a heretic running the state church. But in America, where LGF is published, the Constitution doesn't allow for a state church, or the federal persecution of heretics. And in pursuit of that end, it specifically disallows any a religious test for public office:

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.
--Article VI Section 3

The problem is, a no-religious-test-for-office policy only works in a secular government, with secular goals. Once a government takes on a religious nature, with doctrinal objectives, protection from heretical thinking becomes paramount. The fact that Charles Johnson and so many others find it anathema to appoint any scientist to head the Science Ministry who questions Darwinian Orthodoxy proves that the idea of a secular government has failed. The Founding Fathers of the American Republic, who attributed to "Their Creator" the very rights they sought to protect in its Founding Documents, would not be able to pass the religious test for public office that Charles Johnson proposes: You Can't Have Any Religious Beliefs That Affect Your Job--Especially Beliefs That Darwin May Have Had It All Wrong.

Were it not for the religious beliefs of America's Founding Fathers--beliefs that affected how they drew up the Charter by which American Jurisprudence would be regulated in perpetuity--there would be no First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . . .

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

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