Why Jesus Can’t Be President

Some of you might think that Jesus couldn’t run for President of the United States because he did not live … Continued

Some of you might think that Jesus couldn’t run for President of the United States because he did not live to be old enough to meet the minimum age requirement (35 years of age). But according to John McCain’s views, that is not the only thing that would keep Jesus from becoming U.S. President. You see, Jesus was Jewish and Mr. McCain thinks you need to be Christian to be President.

Must we go through this every time this country becomes more religiously pluralistic? As is very well known, John F. Kennedy faced religious prejudice because he was Catholic and there were those who thought that disqualified him from being U.S. President. Wouldn’t a Catholic uphold Catholic doctrine instead of the U.S. Constitution? The answer the American people gave, and that indeed Kennedy proved during his time in office, was that being Catholic was no barrier to being an American president.

We’ve already considered the question, in these On Faith discussions, of whether a Mormon can be President. Absolutely, I contend; the real question that the American people have to answer about any candidate, and the only question, is ‘is this person qualified for the job?’ Religion doesn’t make the cut. There can be no religious test for office under this U.S. Constitution.

A Muslim? A Buddhist? A Hindu? Which Muslim, which Buddhist, which Hindu? You can’t answer the question “who is qualified to be U.S. President” in the abstract. This is about character and capability for leadership. Nothing else.

Aren’t you the least suspicious, though, of the idea that there could be a list of people qualified to lead the country and Jesus of Nazareth and Mohandas Gandhi wouldn’t make the cut?

  • Richmond T. Stallgiss

    CK said: “So, if Jesus were president, after He died, he would be eligible to be on money, right? “: ) Yes, but Jesus isn’t dead anymore…. He Is RISEN!: ) Good thing we have term limits, or Jesus’ reign would last forever!

  • Ronald Levy

    Interesting that Yeshua/Jesus is linked with Ghandi as if they were equals. Interesting that the author spoke as if Yeshua was just another historical figure.Yeshua couldn’t be President because He always spoke the truth and always pleased his Father.Yeshua would have no need to be President of the U.S.A. as He is Melech Ha Olam/King of the Universe and will reign forever – not for 8 years maximum.

  • Ronald Levy

    Interseting that Yeshua/Jesus was linked with Ghandi as if they were equals.Interesting that Yeshua was written about as just another historical figure.Yeshua couldn’t be President because he is Jewish and our Christian country is primarily pagan.He also couldn’t be President because he always told the truth.Yeshua has no need to be President because he is Melech Ha Olam/King of the Universe and his reign is forever – not just 8 years max.

  • Ronald Levy

    Interseting that Yeshua/Jesus was linked with Ghandi as if they were equals.Interesting that Yeshua was written about as just another historical figure.Yeshua couldn’t be President because he is Jewish and our Christian country is primarily pagan.He also couldn’t be President because he always told the truth.Yeshua has no need to be President because he is Melech Ha Olam/King of the Universe and his reign is forever – not just 8 years max.

  • Richmond T. Stallgiss

    Ronald: You can say that again!

  • Steve B, UK

    Ronald Levy: >>”Yeshua couldn’t be President because he is Jewish and our Christian country is primarily pagan”Oh man, the neopagans on here can only wish that was true! You have no idea how much easier most pagans’ lives would be.A Buddhist President… I can’t even write coherently about that. That would be awesome beyond words. They’d ba killed within days, of course, and there’s no way they’d push through total gun control.

  • Priver

    The US is primarily Pagan?Really? I bet that would be news to most actual Pagans living here.

  • Someone

    Jesus could never be President for even if he had lived to the requisite age. In order to be President, you must also have been born in the United States. Ghandi doesn’t fit the bill either.I suspect though, that Jesus might have enough of a following to get a special exemption by means of a constitutional amendment. If he has a second coming, I’ll be sure to write my congressman in support. Loving thy fellow man seems like a good political platform to me.

  • Chip

    If Jesus tried to run for president the Christian right would vilify him for being a liberal commie and other choice epithets while running him out of town on a rail.

  • Bert

    So, what are the odds of a heathen ever holding office? What’s up with that? I’ll tell you what,Consult your First Amendment, there, the part where it says “…Congress shall make no law…”,I’m not worried about whether they elect Jesus or

  • E Favorite

    Terrific, Susan. I join my fellow critic Mr Mark in congratulating you on a great essay. And I up the ante by suggesting you include “atheist” to the line up of offbeat non-Christian options for President.

  • Mr Mark

    Why would we want Jesus to be president when democracy is anathema to him? Jesus believes in kingdoms with the rabble worshipping kings. In his case, eternally.I think that president bush has shown us what happens when a person who has contempt for democracy tries to run one. No thanks, Jesus. You’re the wrong man for the job.

  • Tom Gibbons CSP

    I think that John McCain is wrong in his opinion… I also think he was being honest. I have to confess that as open minded as I think that I am, I have a knee-jerk reaction to having a president whose faith is different than being in the Judeo/Christian tradition. That doesn’t make it right per se; it just means that we all have a lot of work to do.

  • James McGrath

    Thanks for highlighting this important point about a religious test for office being unconstitutional.Of course, Jesus wasn’t born in the U.S., so he still couldn’t run…

  • Richmond T. Stallgiss

    I think the real disqualifier for Jesus would have been his beard. We haven’t had facial hair on a president since William Howard Taft stepped down in 1913. In any case, as a Christian I wouldn’t be opposed to a not-so-religious person like Fred Thompson being president… or even an atheist or agnostic as long as they aren’t rabidly antitheist. The main decision framework for me is to find somone who most agrees with my political philosophy and won’t implement programs that quash Constitutional rights. Since Presidential nomination tends to pander to the lowest common denominator, I predict that I will again be forced to choose the lesser evil rather than vote for a candidate that I actually like. Peace,

  • Mr Mark

    Excellent commentary.Thank you.

  • Richmond T. Stallgiss

    PS William Howard Taft probably couldn’t be president today either — he was Unitarian.

  • Cindi Knox

    So, if Jesus were president, after He died, he would be eligible to be on money, right? Whose image is on this coin?

  • ChuckB

    The primary reason Jesus could not have been or be president is that He is without sin. Besides, He has a more powerful position in the hierarchy.

  • BGone

    Does anyone know? When Jesus comes again on a cloud to claim the His throne will there be FREE ELECTIONS? The answer is obvious, NO!Thus democracy, the whole idea of people controlling their own destiny is ridiculous. There’s just one thing left to do. Find the true religion and turn the destiny of man over to it’s high holy one. That’s been done already.Matthew 16:18 (Jesus speaking)ANDMatthew 16:19 (Jesus speaking)Notice that Matthew 16:18 dose not say churches.It’s the pope, successor to St Peter who shall run the “kingdom of God, Earth” while we await the return of Jesus. And he has the arbitrary power to condemn anyone to hell. Has he condemned all non Roman Catholics to hell? He has no requirement to announce his actions.Lucky for us the Bible is a proved hoax.

  • Nate

    Chip said: That’s absolutely right. Look what they did to David Koresh in Waco, TX. How do we know he was not the second coming of Jesus?And it wasn’t just the christian right who thought Koresh was a nut job. It was pretty much all of us, the whole country minus his few gullible followers. The enlightened mainstream of our society no longer suffers from year 0000 mysticism, ignorance, gullibility, and lack of education, so he couldn’t enchant us. It’s called progress, achieved through newspapers, books, schools, radio/TV, public opinion forums like this. Koresh (or Jim Jones, or Rev Moon, Jimmy and Tammy Fae Bakker, or Pat Robertson) would have been as powerful as Jesus if most people were still as ignorant as the people in Jesus’ time. Jesus was the David Koresh of the year 0000.Unfortunately, most of the world still labors under the delusions perpetuated by their religions. Their relative enlightenment cannot overcome the dogma passed down thru generations. How many christian families raise muslim children?God is imaginary, invented essentially by cavemen.

  • James R. Cowles

    Aside from other reasons, Jesus could not be President because the Constitution also requires that a President be a NATIVE-BORN American … which is why, e.g., Arnold Schwarzenegger and Henry Kissinger, could also not be President. JIM

  • Richmond T. Stallgiss

    BGONE… the catholics believe that ‘Peter’ was the rock that the church is built on, and that this is the justificqation for Peter being the first Pope. Protestants read the entire pericope as Jesus commending Peter’s confession that *JESUS IS THE CHRIST*…. clearly Peter is rebuked soon after he is supposedly given the keys to the kingdom. The foundation of the church is the confession that Jesus is CHRIST. ======================================== 15″But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. 21From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Jesus only had ‘keys to the kingdom’ insofar as he confessed Jesus as Christ. Peace,

  • ChuckB

    Bgone, that really is the only answer. We are just here to reach this conclusion, aren’t we.Mr. Stallgiss, almost all of the writings of the ancient Greeks were lost to the West until the late Middle Ages. The Scholastics owe their access to these texts to the Arabs, who, unlike early Christians, were tolerant enough not to toss them into a fire.

  • Richmond T. Stallgiss

    CHUCKB said: “The Scholastics owe their access to these texts to the Arabs, who, unlike early Christians, were tolerant enough not to toss them into a fire. “The Christians already had been studying these texts, translated into Latin, but wanted them in Greek.

  • FRIEND

    Jesus, Ghandi, Buddha, and all great prophets are spiritually equal.In fact, “That are thou.”

  • Anonymous

    Ya Ya!

  • jacob

    friend,thank you for getting to the real point. we are all just reflections. some are just more graspable by the deluded and ego-driven people struggling for control of that which is uncontrollable…

  • pegleg

    I never have understood the Christian effort to legislate morality….With our market economy, all the 83% of the American people who claim to be Christian have to do is vote with their wallets and faster than you can say “Immaculate conception” all the sin businesses from TV, to porn to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton will be closing down like a McDonalds after an e-coli scare.

  • Anonymous

    JOZEVZ: Your weird!

  • Jim

    Of course it should have been made clear that an aetheist should qualify for President also. By the way the religious zeolots have been ruining the country, starting foreign wars and showing total intolerance for others, an atheist – ANY ATHEIST, would do a much better job.

  • Anonymous

    “By the way the religious zeolots have been ruining the country, starting foreign wars and showing total intolerance for others, an atheist -ANY ATHEIST, would do a much better job.”Yeah, like Stalin.

  • FRIEND

    To be President, you have to be charismatic, have money, and be groomed in a system that has legalized corruption.None of the great prophets, religious or not, would make it through the system. You couldn’t speak your mind because you would have sold it.

  • Trixie

    JosevzDo you mind repeating that?

  • Momma

    God’s a matter of opinion,and in my opinion there ain’t one.

  • Jimbo

    Hitler was a catholic,from a catholic family.

  • Anonymous

    Jesus wouldn’t want to be president. Render unto Caesar, remember?As for Senator McCain, maybe he should have asked you for permission to express his views. He prefers that the president be a Christian. That is hardly a shocking revelation. Nor is it a radical or unreasonable notion. I suspect that Arabs prefer their leaders be Muslims, and Indians, Hinduists, Isrealies, Jewish. Geeze. Get over it. The whole “I’m more multicultural than you” thing is so tiresome.We could predict you would say this. Surprise us next time.

  • Anonymous

    Jesus wouldn’t want to be president. Render unto Caesar, remember?As for Senator McCain, maybe he should have asked you for permission to express his views. He prefers that the president be a Christian. That is hardly a shocking revelation. Nor is it a radical or unreasonable notion. I suspect that Arabs prefer their leaders be Muslims, and Indians, Hinduists, Isrealies, Jewish. Geeze. Get over it. The whole “I’m more multicultural than you” thing is so tiresome.We could predict you would say this. Surprise us next time.

  • Silly Rabbit

    Silly premise for your argument. Saying Jesus would be disqualified for president (at least to McCain) because he was Jewish and not a Christian assumes that the two are exclusive of each other. So the Jewish disciples of Jesus were not Christians, either? Stop to think your reasoning through before rattling off knee-jerk reaction pieces.

  • tiredofit

    We just had six years of a Republican controlled government that was elected because they put unreasonable fear into people and made religious people of our country believe that they were the party of the highest moral/family values. Unfortunately that claim has been proven to be totally false time and time again. Now we are in a war without exit. The “Conservatives” ran up so much debt for our country that Bush says we now cannot afford to take proper care of our children. His answer is to let them get sick enough so they can go to the emergency room. The same people that cast their votes based on the belief that abortions would be stopped now say they don’t want their taxes raised to support someone else’s children. Powel told the Bush administration before they entered Iraq that if they broke it they bought it. The same applies to the children that were “saved”. Someone needs to take care of their needs and if their parents need help providing for them it is up to America to see that they get it. No child should be forced to get sick enough to go to the emergency before they can get help. Shame on anyone that thinks that by simply saying that these children are their parents problem absolves them from any responsibility. The children of America are everyones responsiblity and the future of our country. We should not elect our presidents based on their SELF-PROFESSED religious/moral values. Hopefully six years of the Bush administration and Republicn controlled House and Senate have proven that people have to look at all of the issues that affect them, not just what they consider to be religious issues. Would God want children saved one day only to have their needs ignored the next?

  • Bob

    Pressure from one’s faith can crush the life from any political candidate but may just get that person elected. What I find odd is the willingness of people to accept a candidate who may be as far from honor as honor can be with lies and absent of truths about their faith. All this to please the faith filled voters. Voters seem not to care as long as the hate and discontent along their faith lines is heard. Wow, faith without faith, truth with lies and honor without honor. Is this a great country or not?

  • marie

    Thomas Jefferson was agnostic.

  • Marie

    Well, he was a deist. Certainly not a fundamentalist. I wish I could vote for Thomas Jefferson.

  • Tim Smithheart

    Dear Ms. Thistlethwaite:

  • armbrat

    example being John McCain, born in the US Panama Canal Zone (though I would vote for him if he were the only candidate)

  • Lisa

    I’m always fascinated by the things that people choose to become outraged about. What John McCain said – it really isn’t that big a deal.

  • Jerry Crews

    I bet Jesus could be President if he wanted the job. He could create a Constitutional Amendment lowering the age requirement and attach it to the original document. Instead of loaves and fishes he could take one dollar and create trillions of dollars to pay off the national debt. He could rid the country of tornadoes,hurricanes, etc and create perfect agricultural conditions. The list goes on and on but you get my drift (I hope).

  • Norrie Hoyt

    PAGANS, BE OF GOOD CHEER:The present Vermont State House was built in 1859.Since then, its golden dome has been topped with a tall wooden carving of the Greco-Roman pagan goddess Demeter-Ceres, the goddess of agriculture and fertility.For the last 148 years, all of Vermont’s laws have been made under her oversight and tutelage.When the time is right, Vermonters will see that she is lodged atop the U.S. capitol building.Then the first pagan U.S. President will be elected.Be patient – your time is coming.

  • janye1

    What a silly topic.

  • Jeff

    “I’m always fascinated by the things that people choose to become outraged about. What John McCain said – it really isn’t that big a deal.”

  • James Pease

    there are barriers to being president, not being rich ,is a barrier, being honest seems to be another. Add to that religion it is a small group alone that can get elected to that job…’tis more the pity for us.

  • BGone

    “Wouldn’t a Catholic uphold Catholic doctrine instead of the U.S. Constitution?”Since Regan discovered the abortion issue it’s been, “you must uphold Baptist doctrine instead of the U.S. Constitution.” McCain is trying to walk in Regan’s gigantic shoes.McCain is ignorant of the fact that too many voters understand the obscure truism, “vote the abortion issue and get an abortion for an administration.” It’s the old reverse peter principle, those who claim to be moral are actually immoral. When the cops caught Spike he said, “I didn’t do nuttin. I didn’t do nuttin. Like I said, I didn’t do nuttin.” Do you believe Spike didn’t do nuttin? Of course Spike speaks the truth. Not doing nothing is doing something.

  • Dean

    Actually Jesus was given the opportunity to be the ruler of all the nations of the world. He passed it up on the same occasion he refused to turn stones into bread. He knew better than to drag religion through the mud of politics.

  • Myronh

    I will vote for any bible-thumping presidential candidate who can show me a soldier who has had a blown-off limb replaced by prayer to God/Jesus. Until then, I don’t want to hear one word about a Christian or religious nation. What a bunch of halucinating idiots that follow ancient myths. How can anyone honestly believe in atomic-energy and other high-tech advances, and in the next move get down on their knees and pray to God. Those two acts are complete opposites of human logic.

  • Kassiejax

    There is a major difference between what is happening now and what happened when Kennedy was running. Back then the concept of separation of church and state was important. People were concerned about how Kennedy’s faith would be reflected in his policies because they didn’t believe national and theological interests were identical. Unfortunately that is no longer true. Religion now has become a litmus test because a small but vocal group in this country believes that national law should enforce religious beliefs. This is reflected in everything from positions on abortion, gay unions (both should be illegal), to teaching creationism and prayer in schools (should be the law). In the effort to get support from this group of voters who may know the Bible but are a little weak on the Bill of Rights, candidates feel an obligation to prove that they are from the “right” religion. Of course the “right” religion has to be once that not only shares these values but also wants to force them on everyone else. Its not just being a Christian but the right kind. Unfortunately, Unitarian won’t cut it, nor I’m afraid Dr. Thistlewaite would the United Church of Christ. Your church doesn’t seem to get that the First amendment and religious tolerance are so last century. If Roe v Wade had occurred during Kennedy’s time he would have been applauded for saying “my faith teaches this is wrong, but I have no right to force it on others.” Nor,after saying this, would the Bishops have banned him from receiving communion. When John Kerry said the same thing he was actively denounced by many including Catholic bishops who refused him the sacraments.

  • rlong

    An absurd idea. But as America has become more “poligious” thanks in part to the abortion question, I do have concerns. When a catholic John Kerry states that his faith would not interfere with his role as President, he has credibility. He is a member of a party that on a few key issues, is counter the the official catholic doctrine from ROME. But when a Republican makes faith based issues the focus and foundation of his candidacy, how can he be believed. He will owe a debt to the faithful followers that is too great. And he will, in the end deceive both those who believe it would not matter and those who expected it too. George Bush does not give a d*mn about abortion but look at his appointments to the supreme court. And what about the most recent 5-4 vote on the SC abortion issue. Catholics 5, non-catholics 4. Religion used to not matter, but now it does.Also, george obviously does not give a damn about the supreme court (Harriet Meyers as Chief Justice? cmon.) This is evident by the appointments he has made. Sort of diminishes the honor of the position. The court is no longer supreme thanks to GWB.

  • Al W.

    Ms. Thistlethwaite’s commentary raised a couple of offbeat theoretical questions in my mind about the legality of not voting for someone because of their religious beliefs. Since, at least in theory, presidents are hired, at least in part, by voting citizens, would those citizens who seek to deny a candidate the job of president because of bias against the candidate’s religion be guilty of discrimination as defined in current EEO law? Is the position of president fundamentally a “job” like non-elected government and civilian jobs? After all, the president is paid a salary, and there is a mechanism for “firing” one. Obviously, this is theoretical since sufficient proof of such discrimination would likely not be either pursued or obtainable, but it crossed my mind.

  • David Ellis

    I believe it was Tolstoy who said that if people lived according to the principles of “The Sermon on the Mount”, there would be no need for government. Ghandi said that it would take a truly exceptional society to live without police, although he truly hoped for one. And Israel whacked the Kennedys (as best I can determine) for exposing several (of their many) lies, particularly re nukes.

  • Kassiejax

    There is a major difference between what is happening now and what happened when Kennedy was running. Back then the concept of separation of church and state was important. People were concerned about how Kennedy’s faith would be reflected in his policies because they didn’t believe national and theological interests were identical. Unfortunately that is no longer true. Religion now has become a litmus test because a small but vocal group in this country believes that national law should enforce religious beliefs. This is reflected in everything from positions on abortion, gay unions (both should be illegal), to teaching creationism and prayer in schools (should be the law). In the effort to get support from this group of voters who may know the Bible but are a little weak on the Bill of Rights, candidates feel an obligation to prove that they are from the “right” religion. Of course the “right” religion has to be once that not only shares these values but also wants to force them on everyone else. Its not just being a Christian but the right kind. Unfortunately, Unitarian won’t cut it, nor I’m afraid Dr. Thistlewaite would the United Church of Christ. Your church doesn’t seem to get that the First amendment and religious tolerance are so last century. If Roe v Wade had occurred during Kennedy’s time he would have been applauded for saying “my faith teaches this is wrong, but I have no right to force it on others.” Nor,after saying this, would the Bishops have banned him from receiving communion. When John Kerry said the same thing he was actively denounced by many including Catholic bishops who refused him the sacraments.

  • JC

    Of course Jesus could not be President because he may not even have been a real person (see “The Jesus Puzzle”). But Jesus because of the 2000 years between now and then is a necessarily ambiguous historical figure. Joseph Smith is not. For a person to accept as truth, the book of mormon, I believe disqualifies him. He is not a rational person. There is a record. But then again… maybe George Washington really did chop down that cherry tree.

  • Richmond T. Stallgiss

    BGONE said: “It’s the old reverse peter principle, those who claim to be moral are actually immoral. When the cops caught Spike he said, “I didn’t do nuttin. I didn’t do nuttin. Like I said, I didn’t do nuttin.” Do you believe Spike didn’t do nuttin? Of course Spike speaks the truth. Not doing nothing is doing something.”The literary allusion you should have used is Shakespeare’s, “The Lady doth protest too much, methinks”Peace,

  • Griffin

    The Constitution only requires the President to have been born in America if she was born after the constitution was ratified, so Jesus, though not born on American Soil, would qualify.How do you thing George Washington made the cut?

  • Jane

    Except I do look a lot harder at any presidential candidate who says they have “faith.”I realize, given the mindset of the majority of the American voting public, candidates feel they HAVE to say they have faith. What I want to know that they can compartmentalize that, and not bring it into their decisions.If they make any statements indicating they believe that faith is anything more than a cultural/social system for them, that God is more than a generic concept, then I’m very worried about their ability to make rational decisions.In an ideal world, faith wouldn’t be a virtue. Common sense, empathy, logic, fairness, etc. would be the virtues!

  • Michael Bindner

    Jesus wouldn’t run. If he were to run, it would not be as a Republican (too anti-war).The scenario really is silly, since a living Jesus would presuppose no such thing as Christianity. Of course, without Christianity, the anti-semitism that flourished in the United States and Europe would not exist. If Constantine had not become a Christian, due to the lack of Christianity, he would have been something else, likely a Stoic. I don’t think Judaism would have appealed to him – and even if it had, the rabbis would never have gone along with making Judaism the state religion of the empire.The likely political debate would be between the Stoics and the Epicurians.

  • Richmond T. Stallgiss

    JANE said “In an ideal world, faith wouldn’t be a virtue. Common sense, empathy, logic, fairness, etc. would be the virtues!”I think the distinction to make is that an informed Christian faith is a virtue, but claiming to have faith doesn’t make one virtuous. The problem with faith is that somee people have faith in the wrong things. They have faith that their errors are not really errors, or faith that God rewards those who blow themselves up. The Christian Faith is one that depends on God’s providence in times of hardship and affliction. The Christian understanding of God is not that God enjoys you punishing others… but that God will give you life when you thought you were dead. God gives resurrection when you expected a grave. Peace,

  • JoeT

    My concern would be that Jesus’s ideas and ideals–based on what people in the bible said he said–would be a bit too, well, backwards, intolerant, and essentially dangerous to our way of life: moderately democratic society.

  • J. Rhinehart

    You’re right that Jesus & Ghandi wouldn’t qualify to be President under the conservative Christian views of this country. But you failed to mention that both of these men were eminently unqualified to be politicians; they were deliberately non-political men. They eschewed politics to focus on morality. In fact, Jesus absolutely refused to become involved in anything political. That’s why the title of “King of the Jews” placed over his head on the cross was such a mockery. Both men were kings of people’s hearts, not their bodies. What is that saying about 2 masters, you can’t serve God and Mammon…..Politics and religion don’t mix. That’s what McCain – and all the conservative Christians – ignore about Jesus. Any man who uses religion to get votes has lost mine.

  • DZ

    Fred Goepfert:Atheists and other secular Americans are no more relativistic in values than any Christian. All morality comes from humans, and disagreement does not even remotely imply relativism. We simply arrive at values/morality in different ways.Also, I don’t see satanists as intrinsically more evil than Christians. You all believe in things that I consider totally irrational. If some satanist were willing to govern in accordance with the Constitution and U.S. law, I would be willing to consider that. George Bush, OTOH, even though he purports to be a Christian, wouldn’t qualify because he has violated almost every principle upon which this country was founded.A believer in denying equal rights to all Americans solely on the basis of status would be ineligible. Yes, I mean gay marriage. If you oppose it, I oppose you even though I’m straight.Anyone who believes in substituting superstitious claptrap for science in a public school classroom would be ineligible.Anyone who endorses torture would be ineligible.Anyone who endorses wars of choice against countries not a threat to the U.S. would be ineligible.Yes, Fred, there are absolutes.

  • David Blackburn

    Yeah, but a lot of people would like to think they are voting for Jesus – even when it’s just for a man. Thanks to the ‘Jesus’ vote, we have a C-student as president. I would hope Jesus got better grades. I sometimes wonder how George would expect to make it to heaven to be with Jesus. I don’t recall any mention from Jesus about getting there by causing war or supporting anti-environmentalists, who believe profits and net worth are more important than God’s creation. I wish Barbara would have read him the story about the good Samaritan and applied it to health care. Or the story about the woman at the well and applied it to the death penalty. We should change the constitution so that we could elect Jesus when he returns. He might be running as a third party candidate next year!

  • J Rhinehart

    TO JANE, “In an ideal world, faith wouldn’t be a virtue.”Virtue (translated from “De” ?) is also an important concept in Chinese philosophies such as Confucianism and Daoism. Confucian manifestations of virtue include ren or humanity, xiao usually translated as filial piety, and zhong meaning loyalty. The Daoist concept of De, however, is more subtle, pertaining to the virtue or ability that an individual realizes by following the Dao or way. One important normative value in much of Chinese thinking is that one’s social status should be the result of the amount of virtue that one could demonstrate rather than by one’s birth. In the Analects, Confucius stated that perfect virtue consists of the global practice of five things: gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.WISDOM and KNOWLEDGE: creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective “For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue (arete) and virtue (arete) with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control (temperance) and self-control with steadfastness, etc.” New Testament, II Peter 1.5-7. These vices are pride, envy, avarice, anger, lust, gluttony, and sloth. The opposite of these vices are the following virtues: meekness, humility, generosity, tolerance, chastity, moderation, and zeal (meaning enthusiastic devotion to a good cause or an ideal). (No mention of “faith” as a virtue.)Samurai valuesIn Hagakure, the quintessential book of the samurai, Yamamoto Tsunetomo encapsulates his views on ‘virtue’ in the four vows he makes daily:Never to be outdone in the Way of the Samurai.TEMPERANCE: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

  • anonymous again

    Rhinehart: well said, you can count the lost votes to two.

  • John G.

    Question? You stated that faith has no voice in who can be president. But yet the evangelicals who supported G.W.Bush, state constantly that ‘that’ is just the litmus test for any policital office. You state that being a Hindu, Buddhist, or in my words a Wiccan, (A Muslim? A Buddhist? A Hindu? Which Muslim, which Buddhist, which Hindu? You can’t answer the question “who is qualified to be U.S. President” in the abstract. This is about character and capability for leadership. Nothing else.) But yet these same evangelicals continualy stand in front of stage props depicting the ten commandments. And the most predominant is the first, stating that no other God can be had. So, my question is, what happens to us who do not recognize, or reject your Christian God?

  • John G.

    Question? You stated that faith has no voice in who can be president. But yet the evangelicals who supported G.W.Bush, state constantly that ‘that’ is just the litmus test for any policital office. You state that being a Hindu, Buddhist, or in my words a Wiccan, (A Muslim? A Buddhist? A Hindu? Which Muslim, which Buddhist, which Hindu? You can’t answer the question “who is qualified to be U.S. President” in the abstract. This is about character and capability for leadership. Nothing else.) But yet these same evangelicals continualy stand in front of stage props depicting the ten commandments. And the most predominant is the first, stating that no other God can be had. So, my question is, what happens to us who do not recognize, or reject your Christian God?

  • VV

    My personal question is not whether Jesus could be President, but rather would Jesus even consider becoming President? My opinion is that Jesus wouldn’t want to be President. I base my opinion on the fact that He did say that His kingdom was not of this world. (John 18:36) If God so wished, He could have made Jesus the King of the whole world, but we would then be in a very different world and probably have very different predicaments.Having said that, I am very glad to live in a country where my religious freedom is guaranteed by law and also am hopeful that once this President’s term is over, we will likely get someone good, be that person an atheist or a Muslim or Hindu. I just wish we get someone reasonably intelligent.

  • Robert Arnow

    Good thinking, good analysis of what a person needs to be in order to be a qualified world leader. However, if Jesus was Jewish, what are those that follow a Jew, one who remained Jewish until his death- non-Jews? Help me fill in what’s missing…

  • Robert Arnow

    Good thinking, good analysis of what a person needs to be in order to be a qualified world leader. However, if Jesus was Jewish, what are those that follow a Jew, one who remained Jewish until his death- non-Jews? Help me fill in what’s missing…

  • Phil Smith

    I thought this article was going to be “On Faith.”Nope… it is about “On Politics.”How about real articles that are about “On Faith?”Phil Smith

  • Kacoo

    I’m not aware of any Jews running for President, so the question is sort of hypothetical. Jesus of Nazereth was born in Bethlehem, which is today part of Israel. As he was not born in the United States, he cannot run for President of the United States. Jesus could run for President of Israel, but I don’t think he’d get many votes.

  • Kenny Boy

    If you believe in a god that takes an active role in this world and that he favors or disfavors some of his creations. If you believe that you can influence his judgement to bend to your desires. If you believe that your belief gives you any advantage in this world. Then you are seriously delusional and should never be given even the slightest responsibility.

  • JD

    Every time you feel your heart beat you get one beat closer to it being too late.

  • JD

    Every time you feel your heart beat you get one beat closer to it being too late.

  • JD

    Every time you feel your heart beat you get one beat closer to it being too late.

  • JD

    Every time you feel your heart beat you get one beat closer to it being too late.

  • JD

    Every time you feel your heart beat you get one beat closer to it being too late.

  • JD

    Every time you feel your heart beat you get one beat closer to it being too late.

  • JD

    Every time you feel your heart beat you get one beat closer to it being too late.

  • JD

    Every time you feel your heart beat you get one beat closer to it being too late.

  • Philip J Tramdack

    Anybody who trumpets his or her unshakable belief in Stone Age myths and Medieval superstition, no matter what the particular label, is completely unfit to be president. I would vote for a candidate who said something like this: “My personal religion is nobody’s business but my own. I will say however that I do believe in scholarly endeavor, in discovery, the scientific method, in debate, in peer review, and in the quest for truth. I am capable of revising what I believe when I learn new things. I also believe in the freedom of every person to find his own path to spirituality or inner peace. I believe in taking responsibility for my actions and not treating any person different to how I would wish to be treated in turn by that person. I treasure the humanity of every single person on Earth, and I value every living organism on our planet. I value life as an end in itself and not merely as a means to my own satisfaction or pleasure. Finally, may I say that just because we don’t understand something today doesn’t mean we won’t understand it tomorrow. My only unshakable belief is in the ability of humankind to learn from the narrative of history, the discoveries of science and the analysis of philosophy to achieve civilization and to survive and flourish on our planet.”I could vote for the candidate who said something like that. Philip J Tramdack

  • Homesower

    Stuff and nonsense! The constitution forbids a religious test by the government but places no such enjoinder on individual voters. There are other things to consider besides religion, but if you are to take the whole measure of a man religion better be in that mix. The real problem of using religion as a factor is the same problem faced with every other qualification: how much of it is real. A person can claim to have a wonderful relationship with God, but his God is really himself. In the end you have to judge his claims against all the evidence that builds up in a lifetime, and then attempt to correct for all the distortions a campaign brings to your perceptions of the facts.

  • alkanlevent @ washingtonpost

    when “vulnerable” is based on “vulnerary”, then President of USA shall be a healer again, whatever the wound is.

  • Homesower

    Dr. Thistlethwaite! How can I recommend your seminary to anyone when its president engages in such sophomoric reasoning? Jesus can’t be President because He is Jewish? This from a seminarian? Of course Jesus is Jewish, but all Christians are sons of Abraham. Where is the conflict?As to the age qualification, he may have died at 33, but he is ageless, eternal and without end. Of course, his nomination would be challenged by some seminarian who claimed he never really existed. Not you, but there are seminarians who would take this position.The real problem is that he would never want the job. He is already appointed to rule over all the earth, and that won’t require cooperation with congress. The presidency would be a major step down from that job.

  • Homesower

    Jane said “I realize, given the mindset of the majority of the American voting public, candidates feel they HAVE to say they have faith. What I want to know that they can compartmentalize that, and not bring it into their decisions.”What you just describe is the person we don’t need. That person would compartmentalize all of their virtues into a comfortable place where they could go about living their lives unchanged by their “faith”. They would say “Its wrong to steal” but add “but this is different”. They’d claim “I have to be honest” and then say under their breath “except in campaigns or when it inconvenient”.I suppose you have described most people to some extent, but its not a good thing. Don’t claim it is a virtue in a candidate.

  • Mariano Patalinjug

    Ms Brooks: Sen. John McCain is wrong in saying that Jesus Christ of Nazareth could not be elected President of these United States–not because he was not yet 35 when he died–but simply because he was Jewish and not Christian!Conceding, arguendo, that Jesus Christ was not Christian, but a Jew who was a natural-born citizen of these United States, I see no reason why, after reaching 35 years of age, he could not be elected President of these United States.You are quite right to say that the US Constitution does not require a religious test for any man or woman who aspires to be elected President. He or she need only be a natural-born citizen of the United States, and be at least 35 years of age.Assuming, however, that Jesus Christ, were a natural-born citizen of these United States, and was 35 years old when he ran for President and won the Office, my sense is that it would be understandably utopian and unrealistic to think that Jesus Christ’s beliefs, convictions and values as a Jew would not color or influence his decisions as President.One has to assume that those Jewish beliefs, convictions and values, deeply embedded in the sub-conscious could easily, reflexively, unwittingly and automatically color and influence all decisions Jesus Christ would have had to make as President.To assert that they would not is to assert, wrongly, that Jesus Christ was not human.

  • Mariano Patalinjug

    Ms Brooks: Sen. John McCain is wrong in saying that Jesus Christ of Nazareth could not be elected President of these United States–not because he was not yet 35 when he died–but simply because he was Jewish and not Christian!Conceding, arguendo, that Jesus Christ was not Christian, but a Jew who was a natural-born citizen of these United States, I see no reason why, after reaching 35 years of age, he could not be elected President of these United States.You are quite right to say that the US Constitution does not require a religious test for any man or woman who aspires to be elected President. He or she need only be a natural-born citizen of the United States, and be at least 35 years of age.Assuming, however, that Jesus Christ, were a natural-born citizen of these United States, and was 35 years old when he ran for President and won the Office, my sense is that it would be understandably utopian and unrealistic to think that Jesus Christ’s beliefs, convictions and values as a Jew would not color or influence his decisions as President.One has to assume that those Jewish beliefs, convictions and values, deeply embedded in the sub-conscious could easily, reflexively, unwittingly and automatically color and influence all decisions Jesus Christ would have had to make as President.To assert that they would not is to assert, wrongly, that Jesus Christ was not human.

  • Mariano Patalinjug

    Ms Brooks: Sen. John McCain is wrong in saying that Jesus Christ of Nazareth could not be elected President of these United States–not because he was not yet 35 when he died–but simply because he was Jewish and not Christian!Conceding, arguendo, that Jesus Christ was not Christian, but a Jew who was a natural-born citizen of these United States, I see no reason why, after reaching 35 years of age, he could not be elected President of these United States.You are quite right to say that the US Constitution does not require a religious test for any man or woman who aspires to be elected President. He or she need only be a natural-born citizen of the United States, and be at least 35 years of age.Assuming, however, that Jesus Christ, were a natural-born citizen of these United States, and was 35 years old when he ran for President and won the Office, my sense is that it would be understandably utopian and unrealistic to think that Jesus Christ’s beliefs, convictions and values as a Jew would not color or influence his decisions as President.One has to assume that those Jewish beliefs, convictions and values, deeply embedded in the sub-conscious could easily, reflexively, unwittingly and automatically color and influence all decisions Jesus Christ would have had to make as President.To assert that they would not is to assert, wrongly, that Jesus Christ was not human.

  • Homesower

    Joet said “My concern would be that Jesus’s ideas and ideals–based on what people in the bible said he said–would be a bit too, well, backwards, intolerant, and essentially dangerous to our way of life: moderately democratic society.”Was that tongue in cheek?The standard of virtue is now considered backward and intolerant! I suppose he had similar problems with the society he face in Israel, but its a sad thing when we think our virtues have evolved past the one who defines virtue. Your views are probably held by many, and you phrased them so succinctly.I suppose you are correct. We really can’t be considered a Christian nation anymore. Not that we ever really were, but at least we were at one time a Christian nation wannabee. While wanting to be good and Godly is not the same as being good and Godly its at least better than not wanting t be good and Godly.

  • Homesower

    Pegleg said “I never have understood the Christian effort to legislate morality….With our market economy, all the 83% of the American people who claim to be Christian have to do is vote with their wallets and faster than you can say “Immaculate conception” all the sin businesses from TV, to porn to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton will be closing down like a McDonalds after an e-coli scare.”You can run a fine business with only 17% market share. 17% of the population still has loads to money to spend on all those things.Legislating morality is perhaps the primary job of governments. Laws against stealing, unequal weights and measures, moving boundary lines and the like have been around since the first governments. If the market worked for such things governments would be out of business.

  • JKoch

    Americans may claim Jesus as their “favrit flossyfur,” but they sure would not want to give up all their worldly treasure, to live like his disciples, as wandering “lilies of the field” mendicants, or love their enemies. When it turned out that He would not abide by their “Yes, but” replies to his beatitudes, and would not button up and let folks “get on with business,” the crowds would get fed up, pronounce him an impostor, and have Him eliminated, just like last time.

  • aleks

    Neither Jesus nor Gandhi was born an American citizen, so McCain’s view is as irrelevant to their suitability for president as to so many other things.

  • Larry

    “Rev.” Thistlethwaite’s supposed point is that based on Mr. McCain’s preferences, Jesus would be excluded because he was Jewish.This woman is “President” of a “Seminary”?? Doesn’t she, or anyone who actually read this tripe understand the difference between RACE and FAITH??Jesus was the very first CHRISTIAN.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    JD wrote:”Every time you feel your heart beat you get one beat closer to it being too late.”No, you’re one beat closer to being reincarnated and getting a fresh chance to attain enlightenment.

  • Vern B

    I find it curious that the intent and loyalty of a candidate to doctrine is only in reference to Catholic, Mormon, Hindu etc. For the past six and a half years we’ve had a Protestant influenced by Evangelical perceptions actually claim that God told him to invade Iraq. Every socially important issue that effects ALL Americans was filtered through his intent and loyalty to his “Christian” doctrine. I imagine Jesus cringes every time he’s tied to this blasphemous insanity. This criteria evidently only applies to ANY candidate not a member of the very conservative Evangelical crowd.

  • Tom Athans

    The Republican Taliban and their three Presidential front-runners are stealth-racist, (don’t forget, they’re running for President), stealth-fascist, (911 was America’s version of the Reichstag fire), and as dangerous to our nation’s future as any foreign-born terrorists.

  • Tom Athans

    The Republican Taliban and their three Presidential front-runners are stealth-racist, (don’t forget, they’re running for President), stealth-fascist, (911 was America’s version of the Reichstag fire), and as dangerous to our nation’s future as any foreign-born terrorists.

  • Art M

    Wow, talk about missing the point. And this woman is a professor of what? The point is not that Jesus COULDN’T be president, but that he WOULDN’T be president. Sorry, but Thistlethwaite bombs on both sides of the issue. Now, let’s discuss the issue,”What if Davey Crockett had had a helicopter at the battle of the Alamo”.

  • Gary Jackson

    Look. John McCain is simply reflecting the flat out religious bigotry that is rampant in America. Notwithstanding the Constitutional writ against apply a religious litmust test for political office, that is effectively what we have here in America. Let’s face the truth about ourselves: We don’t belive in a tenth of what our Constitution actually says. Americans are soaked in bigotry and prejudice. It still remains to be seen whether a woman or an African-American can be elected President, let alone a Jew, a Hindu, a Buddhist or a Muslim.But forget the religious intolerance in America. Imagine an agnostic or an atheist trying to run for President. We simply love to pay lip service to the ideals enshrined within our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, or Declaration of Independence. We love to preach to the rest of the world about it. But, like so much else of what we do, we do not practice what we preach.I find nothing to be so amusing and at the same time outrageously false than the ringing, piteous, self-righteous claim of Christians that they are so discriminated against in our political system when you cannot name a single President of the United States, a single Supreme Court justice, or a single member of any leadership position in the Congress who isn’t a Christian. And we have the gall to say we don’t apply a religious test to holding political office? Fie on us!

  • Chip is right

    Chip say the same thing. If Jesus were to come to D.C. the Hill would ride Him out on a rail talking all that commie nonsense like feeding the poor, mercy and love for those in jail, the old the feeble, the downtrodden and other outsiders. Their feelings would be hurt because he would go to immigrant neighborhoods, to South East, to New Orleans, to Mississippi (the poorest state), to Mosques . . .What he would have to say to those evangelicals that do and say everything opposite of His teachings…”Depart from me ye workers of iniquity… I don’t know you”Not everybody talking ’bout heaven is going there

  • Fred Goepfert

    There should not be a religious test for president, but there should be a values and practices yardstick.If the individual believes and would endorse practices that are clearly harmful to others, they should not be eligible.A Satanist would probably advocate things that would be harmful to others, and be ineligible.A believer in Jihad by the Sword wouldn’t be eligible.A supporter of the goals of NAMBLA shouldn’t be eligible.Even in the relativistic world of the secular humanists, there are some absolutes.Do you agree?Fred Goepfert

  • chris

    Let’s see, jesus was actually around 5’3″ tall, olive skin, had curly hair, had non-caucasian lips and nose, was never married and never had sex (ha ha), thought he had special healing powers, etc. I’ll say this, jesus as president would be interesting. Of course, if you combine Obama and Hillary, you get Ophra (who I keep hearing may be the new jesus. Notice the capitalization). We humans are so small and think so small; we are blind, ignorant children who need a little something to deal with the savagery of nature, and our disappointment with being born humans, and not something better. Add to that magical, wonderful mix, our need for metaphysical groupthink, and it’s not really worth discussing, is it?

  • yoyo

    If God wanted Jesus to be president,then he’d be president.

  • yoyo

    If God wanted Jesus to be president,then he’d be president.

  • e, Dick

    Dear Mr. President, James Anthony Key

  • J. Rhinehart

    TO DZ, All the things you listed as examples are not technically ‘absolutes’. They are choices, opinions, morals, ethics. I agree with you that Bush has broken many of my moral laws in his quest for – what? – I don’t think Bush or Cheney has ever said exactly what it is that they’re doing. But what Bush has done in Iraq has not advanced our ‘war on terrorism’. On the contrary, it’s given them self-righteous ammunition to feel morally superior to us – a David to our Goliath. In reading your list of “absolutes“, I am reminded of a novel I once read, The Virginian, written in the early 20th century. You might want to read it just for the moralizing of the author. It’s filled with common-sense statements about choices. One thing he points out (in the character of the Judge) is that choices always involve the better of 2 imperfect solutions. For instance, take this example from the book. A man is walking along a road & sees another man hurting someone behind a fence where there are clear No Trespassing signs. Does he violate one law (trespassing) to prevent another law (assault / murder) from being broken? The common sense answer might be Yes, because murder is a higher law than trespass. But that’s a moral judgment. Legally, he’s trespassing & can be arrested. It’s all choices, and consequences. In a more modern example, I personally think that police should be able to use any evidence found about a crime in a court of law, regardless of how they came to get it. That doesn’t mean that if they break into my house they shouldn’t be arrested for breaking and entering, it just means anything they find there is real, it’s the truth, and it shouldn’t be thrown out of court because of the way it was obtained. But the policeman who broke in should know the consequences of breaking into someone’s house & be arrested just like anyone else. If he feels that strongly about getting me stopped from whatever it is that I’m doing, then he might be willing to suffer the consequences of arrest & jail. Or he might not. Like I said, it’s about moral choices. It’s not absolutes.

  • Sam

    It would be interesting to see how the members of the various sects would react to the appearance of someone claiming to be “The Christ”.Are there any characteristics, upon which all sects agree, that could be used to objectively identify him?Or would the identification process be another function of sectarian/ political “belief”?

  • Sam

    It would be interesting to see how the various sects treated anyone who claimed to be “The Christ”.Could they all agree on the issue of his or her identification?Are there objectifiable criteria, to which they all subscribe, that could be used to identify the claimant as such?Or would that be a sectarian/political issue, to be resolved through the application of “belief”.

  • Sam

    It would be interesting to see how the various sects treated anyone who claimed to be “The Christ”.Could they all agree on the issue of his or her identification?Are there objectifiable criteria, to which they all subscribe, that could be used to identify the claimant as such?Or would that be a sectarian/political issue, to be resolved through the application of “belief”.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Sam wrote:”Are there any characteristics, upon which all sects agree, that could be used to objectively identify him?”If He appears on the Washington Mall by the Smithsonian and changes water into wine and multiplies the loaves and fishes, HE (like Coke) IS IT!.A LEGAL NOTE:Some years ago a man petitioned the Windham County (Vermont) Probate Court to change his name to COKE IS IT.The Coca Cola Company opposed the petition but the Court granted it (Only in Vermont!).I never heard further of the gentleman or how he made his way through a world of credit cards and tax returns.

  • DZ

    J Rhinehart:I don’t actually disagree with you. I was trying to make a point. What are absolutes to me are not necessarily absolutes to you or someone else. All so called morality is based on a collection of human choices that vary by person, by time and by location. Mr. Goepfert was attempting to establish his god and his Christian principles as absolutes when there are, in fact, no absolutes imposed by some supernatural third party. That was my point – poorly stated obviously.BTW, I have read The Virginian and acknowledge the conundra expressed there.