ACLU Says Religious Tests for Public Office Unconstitutional

December 6, 2007 12:00 am

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ACLU Says Religious Tests for Public Office Unconstitutional

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NEW YORK – Today’s speech by presidential candidate Mitt Romney provides an excellent opportunity for all Americans to consider the appropriate role of faith in public life. While religious expression is a valued and protected part of the First Amendment rights guaranteed to all citizens, as is the right to speak about it, the Constitution also mandates that government stay out of the business of promoting religion.

The following can be attributed to T. Jeremy Gunn, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief:

“The Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees that all Americans, including political candidates, have a right to talk about religion and their religious beliefs. But it is essential to remember the U.S. Constitution has also been clear, for more than two hundred years, that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.’ As the candidates highlight their religious credentials in the coming months, we should keep in mind that the constitutional ban on religious tests protects everyone’s liberty – including Americans of all faiths, or no faith at all. The Founders were deeply concerned about religious pandering, hypocrisy, insincerity, and the trivializing of religion for political ends, and they wisely rejected any religious requirements for public service.”

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