By Greta Hallberg, For The Miami Student
On Meet The Press on Monday, presidential hopeful Ben Carson said he would not support a Muslim in the Oval Office. He justified his comments by saying that the Islamic religion is not consistent with the Constitution and American values.
"I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that," said Carson. "It's inconsistent with the values and principles of America"
Muslims believe in one God. Muslims believe that you should not harm yourself or others. Muslims believe in helping those who are less fortunate than you. Muslims even believe that the Gospels are the word of God. The faith stems from the Judeo-Christian values Carson says our nation is founded on. I have a hard time understanding what is not consistent with the Constitution from the research I have done on the religion.
It's also ironic that he believes the Islamic tradition defies the Constitution, a Constitution that explicitly says in Article 6, "no religious test shall ever be required as qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
Carson further justified his claims by saying that predominantly Muslim nations, specifically in the Middle East, have governments that do not support women or gays. Carson, of course, is running as a Republican, the party that is willing to shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood. In 2014, Carson blamed civil unrest in Ferguson on the 60's feminist movement, which created what he called the "me generation." He's not exactly a feminist icon who has the right to point fingers at others for not supporting women. Carson also said that marriage is a religious institution and therefore did not support the legalization of gay marriage before the Supreme Court ruling. I'm not sure he has the right to condemn other nations for being anti-gay when he does not support marriage equality. Ben Carson later said that Islamic governments do not "separate church and state."
An American Muslim elected to lead the free world is not going to overthrow the government and make it an Islamic theocracy. He's lumping 23 percent of the world's population with the theocratic government structures of developing countries in the Middle East. It seems like an unfair accusation, especially since any person that wants to even consider running for president has to be born in America, instilled with the ideas of a democratic government.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) is a Muslim and, as far as his district is concerned, is fully capable of separating church and state. He's also, you know, American.
Carson's elitist and, frankly, misguided statement is the latest drama in the interplay between religion and politics in the 2016 presidential race.
In the first Republican debate in August, Megyn Kelly closed the debate with this: "An interesting closing question from Chase Norton on Facebook, who wants to know this of the candidates: 'I want to know if any of them have received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first.' Senator Cruz, start from you. Any word from God?"
Really? I cannot get over the stupidity of this question, especially for the first major primetime debate in the 2016 election cycle. This is a political debate, not a Christian testimonial.
What part of "no religious requirements" is not clear in the Constitution? This type of question has no place in a political debate, regardless of your personal faith.
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I worked at my church summer camp. I know how faith can be an important part of one's life. And, while your beliefs can guide your moral compass, it cannot be the basis of political decisions or a factor in whether or not to elect a candidate.
Furthermore, the First Amendment to the Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion."
The Founding Fathers were very clear in establishing a secular nation that has room for individual faith and spiritual exploration without government interference. So, let's talk about separation of church and state, Carson, and take religion off of the political table.