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In response to Rebecca Hagelin’s column “Religion and public office: The Romney test,” partial truth is a dangerous thing.

Yes, she’s right that there is no religious test in the Constitution.

There is also no test for character, for economic policy, nor foreign policy. There is also no prohibition for taking ALL these things into consideration, and an informed voter should do so.

I agree that we have the freedom not to vote for a candidate based on his religious beliefs. But where did that freedom come from? The Declaration of Independence says it came from a Creator God. That’s profoundly religious.

But I couldn’t disagree with Ms. Hagelin more when she says that we shouldn’t say someone is unfit for office if he holds certain beliefs. If it is not wrong to vote against someone for their economic belief or their foreign policy belief, why is it wrong to vote against someone because of beliefs about ethics, the basis of truth, the standard of morality and many other issues that are collectively called religion?

Would you be concerned about his religion if Tom Cruise, an outspoken, high-ranking zealot for Scientology, ran for president? I think it would say something very important about his judgment, character and ethics based on the history and theology of that group.

Would you be concerned about David Duke running for president? His involvement in the Ku Klux Klan would speak volumes about the man.

When we are trying to get a handle on the personality and character of potential leaders that we are in the process of choosing, the groups they have been deeply involved with give us an insight that goes far beyond the current policies they are advocating, even beyond their actions while serving in government. Since we can’t get to know them personally, their involvement (or lack of involvement) with religious groups can be a great help in discerning who they are.

As Mike Huckabee said, his religion defines him. But that’s true of everyone. Their belief in God or their atheism will determine how they view the world, their position in the world and will profoundly affect their decisions.

In the case of Obama, the church he attends is heavily into a racist theology where the focus on their black ethnic heritage drowns out everything else – including Christ. Does that tell me something about him that I can’t learn from his limited political experience?

Romney is just as troubling to me because of the racism in his church. Yes, they officially ended the policy 30 years ago, but Romney was 31 then and had been very active his entire life in a religion that taught that blacks were black because they had rebelled against God with Satan. Because of this they were banned from many positions in the church. Romney did not leave this racist organization but embraced this “faith of his fathers.” He has chosen to keep quiet about his nine years as elder and stake president – equivalent to pastor and regional bishop. His participation as an adult and his lack of candor about both his official position in the church and the church’s position on blacks say a great deal to me about his character and honesty. When Tim Russert followed up on the question of how black people were treated in the Mormon church because of their theology, Mitt cried and lied about his father marching with Martin Luther King.

Huckabee’s religion is relevant to the campaign, because he got into politics because he was pro-life. As the impetus to run for office in the first place, it defines him in a way that goes beyond the other candidates.

I’m glad Huckabee has unashamedly talked about his religion.

Personally, I resent Ms. Hagelin’s attempt to try to make us ashamed of talking about what candidates believe and considering what candidates believe. For far too long intolerance of Christians has been promulgated by the left in the name of tolerance. We need more discussion of politicians’ religion, not less.

David Knight


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