Republican presidential candidate made waves this weekend by suggesting he felt that a Muslim in the White House was not “consistent with the Constitution”. For students just starting their A2, this is a great example of the importance of this 200 year old document in the modern political world.
Most of my students have spent the last week looking at principles of the Constitution – those themes that run throughout the document but do not necessarily get named. Principles such as separation of powers, federalism, limited government and bipartisanship can all be seen quite clearly throughout the Constitution. This article suggests that one of the key things the Founding Fathers had wanted was to separate the church and the state too. Most obviously this can be seen in Amendment I, but more important for Carson is Article VI.
This Article directly prohibits any religious test for any public office. For a document often quite vague, it couldn’t be much clearer in this instance. Therefore, Carson’s interpretation appears mistaken in an academic sense. Certainly this is a great example for students of the use of the Constitution today but also of how we can interpret what the Founding Fathers wanted when they wrote the Constitution. Their ideology and the context of the time are evident throughout it’s 7,000 words. This can be incredibly useful when evaluating if the Founding Fathers would be happy with the use of the Constitution today (an occasional 45 mark question).
This article is well worth taking the time to read as it directly relates this example to the work of the Founding Fathers.