The issue with Ben Carson's Muslim president comments
There is a subtle problem with Dr. Carson's comment that he wouldn’t support a Muslim for president.
I see three issues at work here.
1. Old Islamic law is incompatible with the Constitution.
Old Islamic law does not allow for the separation of mosque and state, while our Constitution guarantees that separation.
Old Islamic law does not allow for freedom of religion, while our Constitution does.
Old Islamic law does not allow for free speech with regard to religion, while our Constitution does.
Those three elements prove that this archaic law disqualifies itself for the modern world.
2. The Constitution does not allow a religious test.
In its historical context, a religious test prevented anyone of the “wrong” religion (usually Catholicism) from holding public office.
Article Six says:
… 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.
Therefore, a Muslim can run for public office and not face constitutional scrutiny over his religion (public scrutiny is another matter).
3. Can a Muslim today renounce Old Islamic Law?
It is possible. While it is rare that Islamic scholars today intend to update Islam, they do exist.
Radicals would call such a Muslim office seeker an apostate, but more moderate ones would not.
So, theoretically, it would be possible to support a Muslim for the presidency, much like Rep. Keith Ellison won supporters in Minnesota.
But in the real world, a Muslim won’t be president in our lifetime or, probably, ever.
James Arlandson has written a supernatural historical fiction about his ancestor and the seventeenth-century real founding of America: Will Clayton: Founder, Quaker, and Demon Breaker. His website is Live as Free People, which is updated almost daily.