I am troubled by the recent Sojorners/Call to Renewal sponsored Democratic candidates forum on CNN about "God & Politics." It is evidence than the goal of the Religious Right to make Christianity the de facto state religion continues to be realistic.
Sojorners is not usually equated with the Religious Right. Many readers of Sojorners support the separation of Church & State. Yet, the very existence of such a forum--which conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan called a "Faith-Off"--its prominence, and the pandering answers of the candidates themselves at the forum all provide evidence that in United States of America de facto religious tests--that is, religious qualifications or prerequisites--exist for public office...at least for the Religious Right, which is the most powerful segment of the base of the Republican Party, and for many of the so-called "religious left," a term begging definition, but that is beginning to be used to mean Christians, including some evangelicals, who are uncomfortable with secularism, yet whose political actions and organizing are focused primarily around issues traditionally outside of the Religious Right, such as ending poverty or combating global climate change.
Religious tests in general are contrary to the principles of our republic's founders, who enshrined in the Constitution a prohibition against explicit (legally-based) religious tests. Whether voters with their de facto faith-based tests for candidates are of the Religious Right or the "religious left," they are most probably far more religious than most of the nation's founders, including Benjamin Franklin (a deist), Thomas Jefferson (a deist, and a fairly anti-clerical one), John Adams (at best a Unitarian), and George Washington, (a Mason who kept his personal religious beliefs quite private, but was an avid Mason and certainly no evangelical).
When do personal, private religious tests for some citizens--such as the vetting of presidential candidates' religious beliefs through mechanisms such as the Sojorners forum, not to mention the religious or at least conservative evanglical buzzword-based tests implicit in much of the machinery of the Republican Party--become de facto religious tests for the nation as a whole?