Do politicians lie about religion?

Do politicians lie about religion? Is the pope Catholic? Is Jon Stewart Jewish? 

Of course politicians lie about religion. They have tremendous incentives to misrepresent their religious beliefs so as to sway people to vote for them.

That's why we judge the idea of a religious test or interview to be a weak or useless means of assessing a candidate in an election. 

Damon Linker of the New Republic thinks it's a good idea to ask politicians questions about their religion. We disagree - strongly.

Maybe that makes sense if the person has never held office and there's no other means to determine what he or she stands for. Actual facts drawn from the politician's performance in office ought to be taken most seriously. Indications from a person's life's record of integrity and character ought to be important factors.

In the Bergen Record, Linker says, "...all candidates for high office should have to take the religious test..." and he gives us his questions. Linker thinks that by invoking JFK's famous speech and then explaining how times have changed, he can justify his case for a "test" of religion for politicians.

JFK put it legally and nobly, as Linker cites, "Kennedy emphasized that Article VI of the Constitution maintains that no “religious test” may keep a candidate from aspiring to political office. He went further, implying that his Catholicism should be off limits to public scrutiny. To treat a politician’s religious beliefs as politically relevant was an affront to America’s noblest civic traditions, he declared."

We disagree with Linker both on those grounds that JFK invokes, and on the cynical terms that we indicated above. A test indicates nothing. Linker does not suggest we put the respondent under oath. So we think it likely he or she often will lie with no compunctions to get elected or to stay in office.

Linker's plan is just plain unfair, un-American and foolish, not at all noble or practical.

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