Mike Braun, a Jasper, Indiana, businessperson, is a candidate for United States Senate in the Republican Party. In a TV ad, Mr. Braun was touted as a conservative, a businessman, and a Christian. Mr. Braun’s voice-over states he approved the ad.
Many European immigrants to North America in the 1600s and 1700s sought escape from religious persecution. Puritans arrived. In Massachusetts they sought freedom to worship, and discriminated against those whose beliefs were different. Quakers sought to escape discrimination. Four Quakers were hanged by Puritans because the Quakers’ beliefs were viewed as heretical.
Martin Luther’s acts of rebellion as a monk gave impetus to what became the Reformation. Wars were fought. Afer all, premises of Luther’s beliefs included individual relationship with the Christian deity and rejection of the Church as the final intermediary for all things spiritual.
As Mick Jagger sang, in “Sympathy for the Devil”: “I watched with glee/while your kings and queens/fought for ten decades for the god they made.” Perhaps The Framers were disillusioned by religion. Certainly they proscribed affirmation to a deity as part of the oath of office for members of Congress and the judiciary: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several state Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” U.S. Const., Art.VI, cl 3. The oath of office for the President, likewise, contains no avowal to a deity. U.S. Const. Art. II, sec. 1. Madison described qualifications for House of Representatives: “Under these reasonable limitations, the door of this part of the federal government is open to merit of every description, whether native or adoptive, whether young or old, and without regard to poverty or wealth, or to any particular profession of religious faith.” Federalist, No. 52.
We live in a pluralistic society increasingly in some quarters, one may infer from certain news outlets, intolerant.
When I express concern over a candidate’s avowal of religious belief in her or his campaign ads, I do not question freedom of religion. Actually, I am concerned over its erosion.
Of what particular belief is Mr. Braun an adherent? Is he a dominionist—one who believes only Christians should hold positions of governmental authority? We have a right to know of such a belief. After all, one then could ask—who determines what is a “legitimate” or “sincerely held” Christian belief? (Does Mr. Braun believe baptism must be by complete immersion, or is mere “sprinkling” acceptable? If someone holds beliefs contrary to Mr. Braun, is that person a heretic?)
The Oval Office, for today at least, is occupied by a person whom people of the Christian faith find disgusting and antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. Trump would dictate to us anything he chose. Would we choose a theocracy run by a Trump-esque deity? Mr. Braun says he wants to go to Washington to “drain the swamp” and to help Trump (a notion some would say is contradictory). If Mr. Braun touts his faith as part of his campaign, as well as loyalty to Trump, when is it proper to question Mr. Braun on his faith?
Next, do we ask Mr. Braun how he cracks an egg?
DISCLOSURE: I represent the First Church of Cannabis in litigation under the RFRA statute of Indiana. FCOC had no prior review or approval of this blog.