Rebels Without A Clause: When Senators Run Roughshod Over the "No Religious Test" Clause of the U.S. Constitution

Rebels Without A Clause: When Senators Run Roughshod Over the "No Religious Test" Clause of the U.S. Constitution

By Alexandra McPhee

Recent senate confirmation hearings have revealed a troubling pattern of questioning posed to presidential nominees by senators. These questions display a hostility toward religion and people of faith, highlighted most significantly in the treatment of those nominated for office by President Donald Trump.

Senators, particularly Democrats, have inappropriately interrogated nominees with comments and lines of questioning spanning theology, congregation membership, and associations with faith-based nonprofits, all seemingly with the intent to discredit the nominees. For example, because in his view "religion [has been] used as a ruse to discriminate," Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) thought it was appropriate to ask a judicial nominee during her confirmation hearing whether she thought same-sex relationships were a "sin." Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) found that a nominee was "really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about" because of the nominee's expression of his Christian theological beliefs. And Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who referred to religion as a "dogma," said of a Catholic nominee, that "the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that's of concern . . ."

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