Illegal Interview?

April 18, 2008

Baptist minister Welton Gaddy, who leads the Interfaith Alliance, offered an interesting perspective about some of the questions asked during the recent "Compassion Forum" with Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He argued:

Sunday night's Compassion Forum on CNN provided an opportunity to get some relevant answers about the respective stances of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the role of religion in government. Instead, the moderators asked some clearly inappropriate questions about the candidates' religious beliefs, and failed to ask others that would have given the voting public insight into the candidates' positions on these important issues.

If a potential employer asked you questions about your religious beliefs in a job interview, it wouldn't only be offensive, it would be illegal. The media needs to stop imposing a de facto religious test on the candidates.

The Compassion Forum was essentially a public interview for the job of President of the United States. And if it had been an interview for any other job in America, a good number of the questions asked would have been downright illegal.

Article VI of the Constitution promises that, "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." So why did the Compassion Forum's moderators ask about Senator Clinton's belief in the Trinity, and what Senator Obama would tell his children about creationism?
He makes a very interesting point about how candidates are often asked very personal religious questions. After all, this was not the first time. John Edwards was once asked by a reporter about the worst sin he ever committed and Mike Huckabee was often asked questions about his theology. Should this bother us? Do we really need to know the answers to these questions or are we helping religion to become just another political slogan that politicians can use to gain votes?

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