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Dr. Carson and the Media’s Muslim Frenzy September 22, 2015

Posted by geoff in News.

There has been a longstanding prejudice against electing a Catholic as president due to the concern that the president would have two loyalties: one to the United States and one to Rome. Only one Catholic has ever been elected to the presidency (JFK), and he didn’t even get to serve a full term.

So the US has never dabbled much in non-Christian religions, with JFK representing the biggest excursion away from Christianity (with the possible exception of two presidents who had no apparent religious affilation). No Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, or Muslims have ever served in that office.

Which is one reason why I’m not really impressed by the furor over Dr. Ben Carson’s comment that he wouldn’t advocate that a Muslim be president. Most Americans have apparently not advocated that a Catholic be president, and Catholics make up a quarter of our population.

Another reason is that the first knee-jerk response from the media (and even Carly Fiorina) has been to cite the Constitution, which places no religious restrictions on eligibility for the presidency.

But Dr. Carson never said that Muslim’s couldn’t run for office, he simply said that if a Muslim president’s loyalties were divided between the US Constitution and the Islamic traditions of theocracy and sharia law, he wouldn’t be a fan.

That’s fair. I would rather have a president with split loyalties between a Pope and the US than someone whose driving motivation was to fundamentally transform the US.

Oh dear. I guess it’s too late to choose.


1. Mark in NJ - September 23, 2015

Hey Geoff – I agree with you on the content of what Carson said, but it was not a smart move politically (and unnecessary too since we’re likely to have a transgender president before a Muslim one).

Also – didn’t realize Catholicism was non-Christian — gonna have to rethink that whole Eucharist deal 🙂

2. Sobek - September 23, 2015

Catholics aren’t Christians? News to me.

3. geoff - September 23, 2015

Sigh. If you read carefully, you’ll note that I said that Catholicism was the further excursion away from Christianity, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t Christian. Nobody reads carefully anymore – especially Ben Carson’s critics.

But it’s also true that it’s common to distinguish the two branches of Catholicism from all the other Christian religions. If you ask someone about their religion, and they say “I’m a Christian,” then you’re pretty sure they’re not a Catholic.

4. Mark in NJ - September 23, 2015

I think I see what you mean — it’s like when I left America and moved to New Jersey.

5. lauraw - September 23, 2015

Geoff, how is Catholicism any kind of excursion from Christianity? I thought they were one of the oldest original sects.

6. geoff - September 23, 2015

Rather, Christianity is an excursion from Catholicism. In the beginning there was the Catholic Church. Next there was the splitting of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches in 1054. And then came Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in 1517, which resulted in the myriad religions we associate with Christianity today.

So formally, yes, as believers in Christ, Catholics are Christians. But due to the historic hostility between the Catholic Church and the other Christian religions, Catholicism is considered a sort of special case of Christianity.

Or maybe it’s just because I was raised Catholic. In my experience, Catholics never referred to themselves as Christians – that was reserved for all the other Christian religions.

7. lauraw - September 23, 2015

*holds Geoff’s hand*

(*this was just a pretext to rub a very tiny snot into it*)

*walks briskly away*

8. geoff - September 23, 2015

…another example of anti-lapsed-Catholic prejudice.

9. Jimbro - September 26, 2015

*boldly strides into quicksand pool*

I too differentiate Catholic versus Christian. Don’t get me started on people who describe themselves only as being “spiritual”.

10. Retired Geezer - September 26, 2015

Don’t get me started on people who describe themselves only as being “spiritual”.
Good one, Jimbro.

This works for me:

11. geoff - September 26, 2015

Har. I also liked the Gluten Intolerant one you linked to way back when.

12. Blackiswhite, Imperial Consigliere - September 28, 2015

*sniffs the air*

Eau de shitstorm?

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