Should ordained ministers be excluded from public office?

The mixing of spiritual power and temporal power vexes me.

My thought is that they have given their allegiance to a higher power, and therefore will put the interests of that power before the interests of their electorate. Therefore, someone who is a minister or imam or whatever should be excluded from public office. Further, in America (and France) there’s an official seperation of church and state. I’ll also cite Ian Paisley as an example of the problem.

On the other hand, they’re still citizens, with all that that entails

So I turn to the Dope. How say you?

We cannot reasonably exclude them. Lots of people have a religious conviction that they feel supersedes mundane matters. If people want to vote for such a person (who is completely open about it, as ordained ministers are), that’s their prerogative, isn’t it?

Besides, it’s not like every religious person is going to run their offices according to their religion. I have a feeling someone like Polycarp or Liberal would be quite able to keep their duties apart.

I would say you can get around the problem of them working for a higher power rather than their constituents just by the nature of the process. Presumably the constituents know what their objectives going to be; if they want an elected official who has higher priorities than them alone, they can vote for him.

I’d say the problem is more of a practical one. Will the person in question have time to fulfil both his obligations? But really, I don’t see any reason why they should be excluded. As long as they’re honest about what they’ll do, it’s up to the voters.

Article VI of the Constitution states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”, which i’d say pretty well covers it.

It might seem like it would be an example of separation of church and state, but in fact, it’s the complete opposite - it would be a case of state taking an explicit interest in religious matters.

Why should being an ordained minister (who may or may not be working as a pastor) make you inelligible? Being a law school graduate or any other diploma does not. And if “answering to a higher power” is considered unacceptable, that means anybody who is not an atheist would not be eligible. Seems, at the very least, impractical.

Who’d to say that a religious lay person won’t have an allegiance to a higher power?

I’m an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church as well as the Church of the Sub-Genius. I have no allegiance to a higher power.

Why stop at clergy types if that is your worry. There are billions of people who have given their allegiance to a higher power. Should they be stopped as well?

Look at Ian Paisley Jnr. for an example. He’s not a Rev. but holds the same positions as his father as do many others in his party. Should they be excluded as well.

Hell Bush has said he’s fighting God’s fight. As much as I’d like him to be excluded I can’t in all honestly agree with it.

Good to see you doing your bit for the enviroment though.

Nice bit of recycling :smiley:

Should some groups be ineligible for political office?

Taking your reasoning to its obvious conclusion, the right to hold public office should be reserved for avowed atheists.

A.k.a. voting their conscience instead of giving the people what they want?

If there’s genuine cause for concern that a clergyman running for office will owe his allegiance elsewhere, wouldn’t his opponent raise that issue during the campaign?

I mean, if Reverend Billie Joe Fundy is running for governor, and his opponents think he’s a dangerous nutball, wouldn’t they say so in their ads, and during debates? It’s not as if the Rev could just slip into office secretly and THEN start enacting his crazy religious agenda.

And if, by chance, the people elect the Rev anyway, then where’s the problem? They know what they’re getting (or think they do) and will either get exactly what they want or else they’ll vote him out 4 years later.

I don’t suppose we’re going to be convincing enough this time either then.

I recall, back in the '80s, objecting to the prospect of Jesse Jackson as POTUS because he was a preacher. But it was pointed out to me that, for historical reasons, any high-profile leader of the African-American community is as likely as not to be a preacher. The church being the one institution African-Americans were always allowed to have as their own, it was a natural base for political organizing.

I might see a conflict of interest when it comes to upholding the duties of the office. A example, what happens when Jesus comes again, should the President launch a military attack against Jesus to preserve the US, because he is sworn to defend the country against takeover?

This reminds me of the comic, where Jesus is running for POTUS:

[Picture of Jesus]Jesus said “turn the other cheek”.
[Voiceover]Jesus is soft on crime.
[Picture of Jesus zooms in a bit]Jesus said “render unto caesar what is caesar’s”
[Voiceover]Jesus wants to raise your taxes
[Picture of Jesus zooms in fully and turns dark]Jesus. Wrong on taxes, wrong on crime: WRONG FOR AMERICA!

Avowed atheists with no philosophy. Anyone with a strongly held view that they place over the wishes of their constituents would be out.

Super! Lat’s get rid of Bush now, then. How would that work, exactly?

:smack: :smack: :smack: :smack: :smack:


Still, it still vexes me.

But why does it continue to vex you?

I suspect you’re imagining someone like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson getting control of the country and turning it into a theocracy. But there’s little danger of that, and what danger there is won’t be avoided by barring ordained ministers from office. The only way something like that could happen is if the American voters wanted it, or if the person was very sneaky about their intentions; and being a well-known religious leader wouldn’t help with the sneakiness.

Look, the only thing being an ordained minister means is that some religious organization or denomination has recognized you as such, because you’ve satisfied their criteria, which may include being educated/trained in such things as theology, preaching, and pastoral counseling. Big whoop.

Certainly, a minister (in a theistic religion at least) is dedicated to serving God—but so is any religious person, lay or clergy. For example, I’m sure that Jimmy Carter—one of our more religious Presidents—believes he was trying to serve God through what he did while in office and afterwards.