According to the United States Constitution (Article VI), “No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." However, religion does seem to play a role in the run for U.S. public office. Recently, presidential hopeful Ben Carson sparked outrage from some when he said that a Muslim could not be President of the United States. Alan Dershowitz, a legal scholar and a professor at Harvard Law School, says Carson’s comments are despicable. “It's like saying a black person can't be president. Or a woman can't be president. We're beyond that. “
Although the U.S. doesn’t endorse a particular religion, polls show that the majority of Americans would not vote for an atheist. A 2014 Pew Research Center poll found that 53% of people in the U.S. said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who is an atheist. That’s more than those who said they would be less likely to vote for someone who is gay (27%), a cheater (35%) or over 70-years-old (36%). Dershowitz says, atheists are “as deep in the closet as gays were” for many years. He adds that if you want to be elected president in the U.S., you have to wear your affiliation ‘on your sleeve.’ “We’re the only Western country that does that.”
Tune into Al Jazeera America Sunday 6:30PM ET for Ali Velshi’s conversation with Alan Dershowitz, legal scholar and author of "Abraham: The World's First (But Certainly Not Last) Jewish Lawyer."
Pope Francis is the first religious leader that has spoken before the U.S. Congress. He has been controversial because of things like his call for climate change action and his criticism of ‘trickle down’ economic policies that hurt the poor and exacerbate income inequality. His stances on these issues are at odds with many of those in Congress, especially Republicans. A lot of people on both sides of the political aisle like him, but not his stances on these issues. Is cherry picking the Pope’s views hypocritical or just good politics?
Joe Watkins, a former White House Aide to President George H.W. Bush, says many Republican candidates are funded by pro-business groups, but their voters side with them because of conservative social issues. “So you have a scenario where social conservatives end up going along with an economic agenda that doesn't actually match what their faith might suggest.” Michael Crowley, a senior reporter at Politico, agrees that, “Business interests win out on the social conservatives.”
Kelly Carlin, host of SiriusXM’ Radio’s “The Kelly Carlin Show,” adds that, “When there's only two parties in our country to vote for, you don't get the full range of conversation, politically or socially. ”You're stuck with, "I kind of like them on this, but not on this.’”
Carlin is the author of “A Carlin Home Companion,” a memoir about growing up with her famous father, comedian George Carlin. Joe Watkins is a pastor and a Republican strategist. Michael Crowley is a senior foreign policy reporter for Politico. They join us on our faith and politics panel Sunday 6:30PM ET on Al Jazeera America.
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