The Founders intended that "the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvanist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils without any inquisition into their faith or mode of worship."
Nothing suggests a Mormon should never sit at the head of the table.
This is America. If someone does not want to shake hands with a Mormon, so be it. We are free to be rude. But Founder Oliver Ellsworth explained what the Founders expected fair-minded Americans to do and Republican presidential aspirant Mitt Romney surely is a Constitution-blessed candidate.
THE CONSTITUTION BANS ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION AND RELIGIOUS TESTS, NOT GOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT OF RELIGION GENERALLY AND RELIGIOUS VALUES.
The First Amendment forbids Congress from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The United States Supreme Court, in Everson v. Board of Education (1947), insisted that the First Amendment means that neither federal nor state governments “can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.”
But the drafters and ratifiers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights defined religion in terms of Judeo-Christian theism and embraced it instead of eschewed it.
Accordingly, the First Amendment was "God-centered" and freedom of religion was listed before freedom of speech and freedom of the press, or the right to assemble peaceably, or the right "to petititon theGovernment for a redress of grievances." James Madison called religion "the duty we owe our Creator."
He did NOT define religion as "irreligion" or atheism, since "irreligion" or atheism is the antithesis of religion.
The religious clauses of the First Amendment were written with God as the focal point.
But, that God-centeredness was abandoned by a Supreme Court misruling designed to raise the Supreme Court above God in a secular state neutral between religion and "irreligion."
Article VI of the Constitution provides that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
Oliver Ellsworth, a Connecticut delegate to the Constitutional Convention, explained that this clause prohibiting any religious test for public office in a published letter written after the Constitution was written and before it was ratified.
Ellsworth made it clear that the clause was NOT intended to undermine religious values.
Ellsworth wrote: "Some very worthy persons who have not had great advantages for information have objected against that clause in the Constitution which provides that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. They have been afraid that this clause is unfavorable to religion."
Ellsworth assured: "But, my countrymen, the sole purpose and effect of it is to exclude persecution and to secure to you the important right of religious liberty. We are almost the only people in the world who have a full enjoyment of this important right of human nature. In our country every man has a right to worship God in that way which is most agreeable to his conscience. If he be a good and peaceable person, he is liable to no penalties or incapacities on account of his religious sentiments; or, in other words, he is not subject to persecution."
I repeat: "If he be a good and peaceable person, he is liable to no penalties or incapacities on account of his religious sentiments; or, in other words, he is not subject to persecution."
Ellsworth dismissed "a test in favor of any one denomination of Christians" as "absurd" and an "indignity" to which the majority of American citizens would not submit.
Ellsworth rejected a test "requiring all person appointed to office to declare, at the time of their admission, their belief in the being of a God, and in the divine authority of the Scriptures," even though "it may be said that one who believes these great truths will not be so likely to violate his obligations to his country as one who disbelieves them" and therefore "we may have greater confidence in his integrity," but because England's experience with religious tests showed that "[t]he most abandoned characters partake of the sacrament in order to qualify themselves for public employments," "the most sacred office of religion" should not be "thus prostitute[d]," and "making a declaration of such a belief is no security at all," because it is "easy...to dissemble" for "an unprincipled man who believes neither the Word nor the being of God" and is "governed merely by selfish motives."
Ellsworth further wrote: "The business of a civil government is to protect the citizen in his rights, to defend the community from hostile powers, and to promote the general welfare. Civil government has no business to meddle with the private opinions of people."
Note the word private.
"If I demean myself as a good citizen," Ellsworth continued, "I am accountable not to man but to God for the religions opinions that I embrace and the manner in which I worship the Supreme Being."
As United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Joseph Story wrote in Commentaries on the Constitution (1833), the Founders intended that "the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvanist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils without any inquisition into their faith or mode of worship."
Nothing suggests a Mormon should never sit at the head of the table.
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.