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Religious Tests On The Rise

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Hakons
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Religious Tests On The Rise

Postby Hakons » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:39 am

Link to the article.

One major part of the American political system is the federal judiciary, which by virtue of the separation of powers is considered a co-equal branch of government with Congress and the Executive. Due to it's importance, who gets to be a judge and who doesn't is a major point of conflict, and in our present times it tends to be based on partisan politics. Sadly, there are growing instances where certain members of congress are questioning the religious background of judicial nominees.

On December 5, Harris posed a series of written questions to Brian Buescher, President Trump's nominee for District Court in Nebraska. The third question reads as follows:

Since 1993, you have been a member of the Knights of Columbus, an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men. In 2016, Carl Anderson, leader of the Knights of Columbus, described abortion as ‘a legal regime that has resulted in more than 40 million deaths.' Mr. Anderson went on to say that ‘abortion is the killing of the innocent on a massive scale.' Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman's right to choose when you joined the organization?

Harris wasn't finished. Follow-ups included "Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed marriage equality when you joined the organization?" and "Have you ever, in any way, assisted with or contributed to advocacy against women's reproductive rights?"


Kamala Harris (Democratic senator from California), took considerable issue with a nominee that was simply a member of a famous Catholic organization. It may be a surprise, but the Knights of Columbus are Catholic and are going to officially support Catholic social teaching. If senator Harris takes issue with the KoC, she takes issue with the Catholic Church. In other words, if being a member of the KoC is enough to throw a nominee's impartiality into question, than so is being a member of the Catholic Church.

What Kamala Harris is suggesting is that membership in a 2 million-strong, 136-year-old Catholic social organization disqualifies an individual from the federal bench.


This is not an isolated occurrence.

She [Harris] was joined in this line of questioning by Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. The even worse news is that plenty of Senate Democrats agree with them. They've adopted a strategy of interrogating President Trump's judicial nominees about Catholic beliefs and associations. It began in September 2017 when Dianne Feinstein told Amy Coney Barrett, now confirmed to the Seventh Circuit, "The dogma lives loudly within you, and that's a concern."


Last March, Feinstein demanded to know if Michael Scudder, now confirmed to the Seventh Circuit, worked with his parish "to establish a residential crisis pregnancy center." Last May, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island asked Peter J. Phipps, now confirmed as a district court judge, about the Knights. Last October, Feinstein, Harris, and three other Democrats wanted to know about the relationship between Fourth Circuit nominee Allison Jones Rushing and the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian nonprofit that supports religious liberty. Last November, Feinstein asked Third Circuit nominee Paul Matey, "If confirmed, will you recuse yourself from all cases in which the Knights of Columbus have taken a position?"


Whitehouse singled out McFadden's church, Falls Church Anglican, for its opposition to same-sex marriage. Whitehouse asked if McFadden agreed with statements made by his pastor. "It would be improper for me to state my personal opinions," McFadden responded in writing.


These are not isolated incidents, but repeated manifestations of what can only be considered religious tests. These are not low-level officials, but prominent senators with powerful positions in their party. Citing a nominee's religious background as a supposed reason for partiality is a direct religious test.

In one case, the religious test was so obvious that a congresswoman of the same party had to criticize another member of her party's conduct.

When Alexis de Tocqueville visited America, he was struck not only by the religiosity of our people. He also noticed their penchant for association. Here was true diversity, a genuine pluralism of belief and practice. The ‘new liberalism‘ that is said to be ascendant in the Democratic Party undermines these twin pillars of American exceptionalism—religion and civil society—to advance the (quite brittle) cultural consensus that reigns in the megalopolis.

No longer is the debate over Christianity in the public square. It is over Christians in the public square. And this is an argument in which people of every faith have a stake in the outcome.


My opinion on this is rather evident. Religious association is not a valid source for political critique. This goes for all religions. It makes sense that Rep. Gabbard criticized the religious questions, since she is part of a tiny religious minority of Hinduism in America. Before it inevitably comes up, the situation in Texas involving people not wanting a Muslim to be an official is another obvious example of an unconstitutional and immoral religious test.

Wise council of NSG, what do you think of this trend? Should those darn Christians be pushed out of the public sphere? Is this just making a mountain out of a mole hill? Should officials that employ religious tests be more openly criticized?
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Postby Hystaria » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:45 am

I think it more revolves over the belief system of that certain sect.
If he has complete faith in his denomination. Then it would be understandable to see as a way asses him.
It more seems like they are using the fact that people tend to use religion as basis for reason, so they are seeing that could be more important than needed.
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Postby Vassenor » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:46 am

So here's a question - how is this any different from the tests Conservatives keep demanding Muslims be subjected to to ensure they don't hold interpretations of the scripture that the conservatives deem "anti-American"? Because I'm not seeing anything about nominees being questioned just for being Christian.
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Postby Dumb Ideologies » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:49 am

Vassenor wrote:So here's a question - how is this any different from the tests Conservatives keep demanding Muslims be subjected to to ensure they don't hold interpretations of the scripture that the conservatives deem "anti-American"? Because I'm not seeing anything about nominees being questioned just for being Christian.


OP condemns this too, who is your question directed at?
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Postby LiberNovusAmericae » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:50 am

If the questions are obviously a religious test, then it is probably unconstitutional. That's all there is to it, as the constitution's position on it is explicitly stated. One's religion shouldn't be a barrier to his or her political freedom.

Edit: Statement Redacted.
Last edited by LiberNovusAmericae on Fri Jan 11, 2019 2:24 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby USS Monitor » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:24 am

For the most part, this trend is just a sign of improving the balance of power between Christians and everyone else. Christians (as a group, not necessarily every individual personally) have been shitting on everyone else in America since before the US even existed, and it's a good thing that people are starting to push back more.

There may be a few isolated cases where someone takes it too far, same as there are isolated cases where some racial minority with a chip on their shoulder violates the rights of white people. But those cases are less common than the ones where someone is just overreacting when they are asked to respect others' rights.

Asking someone about their religious beliefs should not be off-limits when choosing judges. People shouldn't be rejected just because they go to church or identify as a particular denomination, but there are legitimate reasons to talk about someone's beliefs and their willingness to keep their religious beliefs separate from their application of the law.

EDIT: From your OP:

Hakons wrote:
Last May, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island asked Peter J. Phipps, now confirmed as a district court judge, about the Knights.


Here's a case where someone was confirmed anyway. That's kind of what I mean, where you can discuss someone's religious beliefs and affiliations and how it might influence their rulings, but it shouldn't mean everyone that has a religion is disqualified.
Last edited by USS Monitor on Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby LiberNovusAmericae » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:26 am

Now OP, do you believe that atheists like me should be allowed to run for office? Many Christian conservatives, and the state constitution of where I reside in say no.
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Postby Internationalist Bastard » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:27 am

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Postby Pax Nerdvana » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:33 am

Internationalist Bastard wrote:As long as you’re not letting religion influence you towards your job to be a secular job it’s fine, be part of whatever religion you want

^this. Anyway, judges are supposed to be impartial to begin with.
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Postby Luziyca » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:37 am

Internationalist Bastard wrote:As long as you’re not letting religion influence you towards your job to be a secular job it’s fine, be part of whatever religion you want

Agreed.
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Postby Neutraligon » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:48 am

Pax Nerdvana wrote:
Internationalist Bastard wrote:As long as you’re not letting religion influence you towards your job to be a secular job it’s fine, be part of whatever religion you want

^this. Anyway, judges are supposed to be impartial to begin with.

I think this form of questioning was supposed to be getting at if they will be impartial.
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Internationalist Bastard
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Postby Internationalist Bastard » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:50 am

Neutraligon wrote:
Pax Nerdvana wrote:^this. Anyway, judges are supposed to be impartial to begin with.

I think this form of questioning was supposed to be getting at if they will be impartial.

See and that’s fair, but I feel like that’s something you should only really be asking if you have reason to believe their religion is interfering with their impartiality, not something asked when coming out the gates
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Postby Salus Maior » Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:29 pm

Hystaria wrote:I think it more revolves over the belief system of that certain sect.
If he has complete faith in his denomination. Then it would be understandable to see as a way asses him.
It more seems like they are using the fact that people tend to use religion as basis for reason, so they are seeing that could be more important than needed.


"It has more to do with his religion than his religion"
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Postby Salus Maior » Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:32 pm

Internationalist Bastard wrote:As long as you’re not letting religion influence you towards your job to be a secular job it’s fine, be part of whatever religion you want


So you're not allowed to have moral positions outside of say, secular liberalism as a judge?
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Postby Auristania » Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:32 pm

Last November, Feinstein asked Third Circuit nominee Paul Matey, "If confirmed, will you recuse yourself from all cases in which the Knights of Columbus have taken a position?"
This is the point a judge should administer National Law, not Church Law.

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Postby Platypus Bureaucracy » Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:59 pm

They don't seem to actually be religious tests, though? Poor job on the title, I'd say.
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Postby Conserative Morality » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:00 pm

Salus Maior wrote:So you're not allowed to have moral positions outside of say, secular liberalism as a judge?

"Secular liberal democracy wants those who uphold its laws to value secular liberal democracy shocker"

Next thing you'll tell me they have to respect the Constitution or something crazy like that.
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Internationalist Bastard
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Postby Internationalist Bastard » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:01 pm

Salus Maior wrote:
Internationalist Bastard wrote:As long as you’re not letting religion influence you towards your job to be a secular job it’s fine, be part of whatever religion you want


So you're not allowed to have moral positions outside of say, secular liberalism as a judge?

In America where we’re supposed to have secular laws, no
Your job is not to tack personal morality to existing laws
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Postby Erythrean Thebes » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:05 pm

We conceive of our elected leaders either as representatives, in which case their only obligation is to reproduce the opinions of their constituency and to take the corresponding stances on political issues; or we conceive of them as stewards of the public welfare, in which case their only obligation is to advocate for the best possible thing in any given alternative. These two options can't be synthesized, because good and evil are not relative, nor are they subjective.

But in America, I strongly believe, based on my observation of political speech in our nation recently, the American people by and large insist on the former definition of our elected officials. Given that reality, it may be totally appropriate for Kamala Harris to resist someone with religious political principles from filling a position in the federal judiciary. According to the latter definition, I believe there are different questions Harris could ask which would serve the same purpose as her questions about the platform of the KoC. Those questions, such as "isn't a person the sole master of their own body?" etc, would be closer to the truth about good and evil. Nevertheless, I think it is somewhat clear that individual definitions of good and evil vary, even if the actual substance of these qualities does not. Therefore, the issue in dispute is whether Catholic political principles are good for society, or whether they are harmful. That's one of the things which that line of questioning is supposed to inquire about, and I don't see what would be unreasonable about the nominee having to answer those questions to defend his stance.
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Postby Alorgaze » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:28 pm

Ok

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Hakons
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Postby Hakons » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:35 pm

USS Monitor wrote:For the most part, this trend is just a sign of improving the balance of power between Christians and everyone else. Christians (as a group, not necessarily every individual personally) have been shitting on everyone else in America since before the US even existed, and it's a good thing that people are starting to push back more.


Virtually every American institution was created by Christians, so yes American power has largely been dominated by Christians. Clearly, you take issue with that. For whatever reason, you dislike or are suspicious of Christians in power. As a Christian, I must clearly oppose you.

USS Monitor wrote:There may be a few isolated cases where someone takes it too far, same as there are isolated cases where some racial minority with a chip on their shoulder violates the rights of white people. But those cases are less common than the ones where someone is just overreacting when they are asked to respect others' rights.


"Isolated cases." These cases literally happened a few months ago and by prominent senators. It was so obvious that one of their fellow party members called them out on it.

USS Monitor wrote:Asking someone about their religious beliefs should not be off-limits when choosing judges. People shouldn't be rejected just because they go to church or identify as a particular denomination, but there are legitimate reasons to talk about someone's beliefs and their willingness to keep their religious beliefs separate from their application of the law.


You explained exactly what a religious test is. Asking people about their religious beliefs, and presumably rejecting them if something is supposedly disagreeable in those beliefs. For such an avid secularist, you sure don't like treating religious people equally. Asking a judge if they will separate their religious life from their judicial ruling is one thing, but asking about specific beliefs is a clear religious test.

USS Monitor wrote:Here's a case where someone was confirmed anyway. That's kind of what I mean, where you can discuss someone's religious beliefs and affiliations and how it might influence their rulings, but it shouldn't mean everyone that has a religion is disqualified.


Phipps got confirmed because Whitehouse didn't have enough support for his philosophy. "People who support religious tests are in the minority, so I can't oppose their view" is a really terrible way to look at it. If there were enough Whitehouse's, Phipps wouldn't be a judge because he had the audacity to be in a venerable Catholic social organization. That is a religious test and that is unacceptable.
Last edited by Hakons on Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Hakons
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Postby Hakons » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:36 pm

LiberNovusAmericae wrote:Now OP, do you believe that atheists like me should be allowed to run for office? Many Christian conservatives, and the state constitution of where I reside in say no.


Atheists should be allowed to run for office.
I probably won't vote for them, but they can run. :p
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Postby Conserative Morality » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:37 pm

Hakons wrote:Atheists should be allowed to run for office.
I probably won't vote for them, but they can run. :p

Christians should be allowed to run for office.

Senators may not vote to approve them, but they can run.
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Hakons
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Postby Hakons » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:41 pm

Conserative Morality wrote:
Salus Maior wrote:So you're not allowed to have moral positions outside of say, secular liberalism as a judge?

"Secular liberal democracy wants those who uphold its laws to value secular liberal democracy shocker"

Next thing you'll tell me they have to respect the Constitution or something crazy like that.


"Secular liberal democracy" is largely a modern term. For the majority of U.S. history, American government was referred to as republicanism. The "secular liberal democracy" crowd is a lot different than American values have historically been. Heck, modern secularist views are different than American values in the late 1900s.
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