Dr. Richard Land Answers: Is It Okay for People’s Religious Faith to Influence Their Decisions in Public Office?

Question:  How should a person’s religious faith, or lack thereof factor into their fitness for office?

As we anticipate President Trump’s nomination of a candidate to replace the late Associate Justice Ruth Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, this is a valid and relevant question to ask. Odds are high that the nominee will be a Roman Catholic, although at least one of the final five is an Evangelical.

In the case of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the question of her devout Catholic faith was raised rather infamously by Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) when she said, “Whatever a religion is” the “dogma lives loudly within you and that’s of concern.”

That, of course is a highly inappropriate question to ask an American jurist. Judges in the American constitutional system are supposed to interpret the law as it is, not as they would like for it to be. That is the fundamental, thumb-nail definition of what a strict-constructionist, original intent jurist is as opposed to those judges who feel free to look upon the Constitution as a living, breathing document that judges are free to treat as a legal Rorschach test they can see however they like.

(Photo: The Christian Post/Katherine T. Phan)

If Judge Barrett is a strict constructionist (and she and the other four finalists are), then personal religious faith is irrelevant to their fitness to sit as a judge.

Now, when it comes to politicians running for elected office, the calculus is somewhat different. If their faith is important to them and will impact their positions on public policy issues, they should tell the voters the “what, when, and how” of what that impact would be. Then the voters can decide if that is the Congressman, Senator, Governor, or President they desire.

Perhaps the best example of handling this issue I have witnessed involves Senator John F. Kennedy and his presidential run in 1960. Then Senator Kennedy would have been, if elected, the first Roman Catholic president in the U.S. history. Many people were fearful that the pre-Vatican II Catholic hierarchy would wield influence over a Catholic president that a majority of Americans would find unacceptable.

Sen. Kennedy decided to address the issue directly and forthrightly. In September 1960 Senator Kennedy came to Houston, Texas to address the Greater Houston Ministerial Association (a broad range of Protestant denominations).

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Richard D. Land