In Article VI of the U. S. Constitution we read:
. . . no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Does it follow that the U. S. Constitution allows a Muslim citizen who supports sharia (Islamic law) to run for public office? No! For the same Constitution, in its First Amendment, enjoins a salutary separation of church/synagogue/mosque and state, though not in those words. Sharia and the values and principles enshrined in the founding documents are incompatible. On no sane interpretation is our great Constitution a suicide pact.
It is important to realize that Islam is as much an anti-Enlightenment political ideology as it is a religion. Our Enlightenment founders must be rolling around in their graves at the very suggestion that sharia-subscribing Muslims are eligible for the presidency and other public offices.
I just heard Marco Rubio refer to "no religious test" and Article VI in connection with Muslim immigration. But this shows deep confusion on his part. The U. S. Constitution affords protections to U. S. citizens, not to non-citizens.
From a reader:
I don’t follow your reasoning in the “’No Religious Test’” post. I have no idea what “…no religious Test shall ever be required” means if not that someone is permitted to run and be elected regardless of his religious views. It doesn’t mean we have to vote for him, or that his religious views can’t be criticized, or that his own attempts to give state sanction to his religious beliefs and practices can pass Constitutional muster. As you allusively note, the Establishment clause prevents Sharia law or any other distinctively religious practice from becoming the law of the land. But legally preventing the pro-Sharia Muslim from getting what he wants doesn’t legally prevent him from getting elected in the first place.
My reader assumes that no restriction may be placed on admissible religions. I deny it. A religion that requires the subverting of the U. S. Constitution is not an admissible religion when it comes to applying the "no religious Test" provision. One could argue that on a sane interpretation of the Constitution, Islam, though a religion, is not an admissible religion where an admissible religion is one that does not contain core doctrines which, if implemented, would subvert the Constitution.
Or one might argue that Islam is not a religion at all. Damn near anything can and will be called a religion by somebody. Some say with a straight face that leftism is a religion, others that Communism is a religion. Neither is a religion on any adequate definition of 'religion.' I have heard it said that atheism is a religion. Surely it isn't. Is a heresy of a genuine religion itself a religion? Arguably not. Hillaire Belloc and others have maintained that Islam is a Christian heresy. Or one could argue that Islam, or perhaps radical Islam, is not a religion but a totalitarian political ideology masquerading as a religion. How to define religion is a hotly contested issue in the philosophy of religion.
The point here is that "religious" in ". . . no religious Test shall ever be required" is subject to interpretation. We are under no obligation to give it a latitudinarian reading that allows in a destructive ideology incompatible with our values and principles.
My reader apparently thinks that since the Establishment Clause rules out Sharia, that there is no harm in allowing a Sharia-supporting Muslim, i.e., an orthodox Muslim, not a 'radicalized' Muslim, to become president. But this is a naive and dangerous view given that presidents have been known to operate outside the law. (Obama, for example.) It seems obvious to me that someone who shows contempt for our Constitution should not be allowed anywhere near the presidency.