Our friend Matt Franck is absolutely right that those of our friends who use the “no religious test” clause of the Constitution to condemn religious bigotry have got it absolutely wrong.  There are many evils associated with religious bigotry, but the solution is not to assume that a Constitutional provision that prohibits barring all but the orthodox from officeholding also applies to the private deliberations of voters and the appropriate range of political speech in the public square.  The interpretation of the no religious test clause propounded by good people like Bill Bennett and William McGurn would put it at odds with at least two clauses of the First Amendment.

To be sure, in a sinful world religious freedom and freedom of speech will be abused.  But there are plenty of ways of identifying those abuses without misinterpreting the Constitution and further weakening its barriers against an all-encompassing government.

Articles by Joseph Knippenberg

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