Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Settle down, Mr. Matthews...

Hey, Chris, long time, first time. I love Hardball and download the podcast every day because I can't catch it on the air.

You're a brilliant guy but lately you're showing that you are as vulnerable as some of the rest of us to getting someting a little wrong and then going on about it.

On a recent Hardball you asked Governor Huckabee about the candidate's emphasis on his religion in advertising and in debates. Later you said later that a religious test was being erected to holding office and have gone from there to talk a lot about the emphasis Republicans are putting on candidate's relilgion. Again last night you, and another reporter on your show, talked about a religious test for office being created among Republicans; that they are violating the US Constitution.

The Constitution, in Article Six:

"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."

This means that the state and federal governments cannot make any aspect of a person's religion an official qualification for office. Just as a person may be required to be of a certain age, or residency, or professional certification (this applies to appointed offices, as well as elected), or even--until subsequent amendments--race or sex, a person may not be required to be of a certain religion.

All of this goes to government action.

It does not prohibit people voting for someone based on that person's religion--either the religion of the voter or the religion of the candidate. It also does not prohibit anyone asking a candidate about religion or anyone or group of people saying that they will only support someone of a certain religion or that they will oppose someone of a certain (or of no) religion.

So, Chris, you can be critical of people because it's not a good idea to make religion (or a lack thereof) a test in the voter's mind--and I agree with you, it isn't--but it's not really correct to say that people are prohibited from doing that. They can do that, all they want. It is not Un Constitutional.

Like I say, love your show...

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