by Mozzified Contributor Gabriel Sanchez
Christians have selected Sunday as their preferred day of the week to practice their faith. But it is no day of rests for politicians who make their way through the morning television circuit to address to the nation.
On Sunday September 19, Dr. Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a top prospect for the presidency, stated that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” When asked by Chuck Todd, the host of Meet the Press, if the faith of the president should even matter, Carson answered by saying if the President’s faith is “inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter.” And according to Carson, Islam is inconsistent with the constitution and the principles of America.
The biased rhetoric adopted by those running for president is that religion should absolutely be a part of the political process, if that religion is part of the vast meandering offshoots of Christianity. Americans who practice Islam and those who value not having any religious ties are seen as the enemy of the political Christian foundation.
The neurosurgeon turned politician is undoubtedly the smartest person in either party running for president. But in the wake of Carson’s campaign, Muslim women and men have now been publicly denounced from pursuing their constitutional privilege that was once denied to slaves in the same country the African-American candidate hopes to one-day lead.
Dr. Carson later confirmed that he would be comfortable with Muslims in Congress, where currently Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison from Minneapolis and the House Minority Whip, Democratic Congressman Andre Carson from Indianapolis sit as the first Muslims elected to the Congress. They are sure to be the first of many Muslim federal representatives in the future.
The summer of the non-establishment Republican candidate, which Carson is a benefactor of, is also benefiting presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump. While stumping in Iowa, Trump took a question from the audience; well, he listened to a person make anti-Muslim statements about President Obama and eventually ask the candidate when camps, which will execute non-Muslims in America, will end their development.
Trump had an opportunity to signify that he did not agree with the statement, and question the validity of such camps, but elected not to do so. This issue began in 2008 when then United States Senator Barack Obama was accused of not being born in this country and not being a Christian but in fact of being a Muslim in disguise. For many, those two claims where enough to pledge their votes to his opponent Senator John McCain.
To Dr. Carson’s credit, as well as Senator McCain, they have both taken the opportunity to publicly acknowledge that they do not feel the President is un-American or a non-Christian. Trump stated that he is under no obligation to defend the president, speaking as the former leader of the Birther Movement. However, all denounce the idea of Sharia while still using their own religion as a measuring tape for policy.
There is something at stake in this public discussion. It would be unethical to not acknowledge that there are people from many places around the world and even in our own country who use their faith as a tyrannical compass. While smart Muslim kids who build clocks should not be arrested for their potential, there is a threat to the American fabric by Muslim extremists who use fear and terror as their form of speech. Unfortunately their religious fever hides the fact that Muslims are also the victims of such acts and as a whole are both victimized and blamed.
Carson did not say that Muslims could not be president, only that they shouldn’t. Our nation’s founding document establishes that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public trust under the United States.” And maybe it’s because I come from a community of marginalized people that I find it deplorable to cap the potential on an entire culture of people, not based on individual merit but on outliers who share their faith.
Carson may feel that religion is the pivotal factor for a candidate seeking the land’s highest office. The people should be asking if a leaders religion should have any bearing at all. If God told President George W. Bush that we should invade Iraq, then maybe past leadership experience should be the rubric by which we choose who carries out the people’s work, not by the name of their God.
Gabriel Sanchez is an investigative reporting student at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Gabriel reports on politics and is a recipient of the White House Correspondents’ Association Scholarship. Follow him on twitter @gabejsanchez.