Fox & Friends: Priest Says Don’t Trust President Who Doesn’t Fear Eternal Damnation

On Sunday’s edition of Fox & Friends, while Tony Perkins was trying sell his brand of hate to CBS News’ Face the Nation (and failing), Father Jonathan Morris of the Archdiocese of New York and a frequent contributor to Fox News, argued that it would be “hard to trust” an atheist president because an atheist president would not “know there are eternal consequences” to his actions.

You might remember Article 6, paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution. No member of the Religious Right will. It says, clearly and concisely: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

In other words, you cannot require someone to be of any particular religious persuasion when they run for public office in the United States. Including, most prominently, President of the United States. This clause, thanks to the Fourteenth Amendment, also applies to the fifty states.

Even if Article Six, paragraph 3, was originally meant to keep one Christian denomination from persecuting another, the Constitution nowhere says you have to be an adherent of any religion to hold public office. That is the simple and indisputable fact here.

Which is what has always made Republican claims that President Obama is a Muslim so laughable. It doesn’t matter. Except to bigots. Legally and constitutionally, it is a non-issue.

Father Morris is clearly worried about something the Founding Fathers did not worry about. In fact, the delegate who proposed the No Religious Test Clause, Charles Pinckney, came from South Carolina (ironically, given the state’s increasing importance to GOP presidential hopefuls), where Protestantism was the state religion.

The South Carolina Constitution of 1778 (Pinckney wasn’t elected to the South Carolina legislature until 1779) said,

XXXVIII. That all persons and religious societies who acknowledge that there is one God, and a future state of rewards and punishments, and that God is publicly to be worshipped, shall be freely tolerated. The Christian Protestant religion shall be deemed, and is hereby constituted and declared to be, the established religion of this State.

(Also in the irony department: in 1992 the South Carolina Constitution – the latest version of which dated from 1895 – was still barring atheists from holding public office.)

Just to be fair, not everything Morris said was directed at godless liberals. In speaking to the possibility that some Republican candidates might simply be pandering to the Religious Right, Morris said,

Politicians sometimes fall into that, I think. What matters most to us Americans — those who will be voting — is what these guys said before they were running for president, the way in which they lived before they started running for president.

I think they need to be very clear about the values they believe in, not making stuff up in order to get votes. And then people will say, ‘Even if I disagree with some of his beliefs, I like the fact that I can trust him to be who he says he is.’

An excellent point, as it happens. Look at Mormon Mitt Romney, who suddenly found Evangelicalism in time to run for president in 2012.

How should faith “inform your life?” Tucker Carlson wondered. Morris answered:

It’s a belief in God. It’s a belief that there are eternal consequences for your actions. And I think a leader that doesn’t have that — a set of core beliefs that help him to make justice an important part of his life and his decisions because he knows that there are eternal consequences, well, it’s somebody that it’s hard to trust.

To the question of whether an atheist should be president, Morris seemed to want to appear reasonable while feeding the myth that goodness and morality cannot exist outside Christianity:

“You know, I would say that faith is not the most important thing, but wisdom, in terms of a leader. But yes, I certainly think it makes a difference who that person is.”

Why Father Morris didn’t take this opportunity – or any other in his many appearances on Fox News – to defend the poor Jesus championed, is anyone’s guess. This would have been the perfect time to point out that Republican economic policies create poor people, and then not only demonize them, but punish them for being poor.

Shouldn’t adhering to Jesus’ gospel about the poor (blessed are the poor, the last shall be first, etc) be more critical in a Republican candidate than whether or not they fear eternal damnation?

Sorry I’ve gone off tangent: Republican Jesus’ sole mission on this earth was to hate on gay people and women and champion gun rights. How could I forget?

Will you forgive me, Father Morris, for suggesting even for an instant that Christians ought, at least a little bit, follow Jesus in their approach to the poor?

Certainly, if atheists and secularists can do it, Christians can.

26 Replies to “Fox & Friends: Priest Says Don’t Trust President Who Doesn’t Fear Eternal Damnation”

  1. I’d suggest it’s more important for a President to act on the premise that, if we screw up, Nobody is going to reach down and fix it for us.

  2. The religious right keeps proving they don’t believe in the U.S. Constitution, especially the part of “separation of church and state”, and if their efforts to undermine that term are successful, it will destroy our country.

  3. I don’t trust folks who feel that they can be excused for their crimes by asking an invisible imaginary sky god for forgiveness, particularly when they’re guilty of raping kids.

  4. Personally it is the ones who cling too much to religion that I don’t trust. They believe that no matter what they do all they have to do is apologize and ask for forgiveness and sadly, it does work for them. Cases in point, David Vitter and Mark Sanford. Wonder if those same forgivers would forgive a democrat if they did the same?

  5. Boy, the ubiquitous “they” were all over the air waves yesterday spewing “Uncle stinky” lies…first Land the baptist and now Morris the catholic. “They” know, with certainty that the Supreme Court is not going to give them their ban on gay marriage; no theocracy today, boys.

    Same message, same reply I gave yesterday:

    ‘…people with absolute certainty (those “know” what happens to us in terms of an after-life replete with eternal damnation) can afford to be openly superior, blatant, arrogant and, smug in there knowledge; the rest of the human race can’t. The rest of the human race learns to live, adapt, and respect one another boundaries through peace.

    They don’t belong here…they need to do that “rap” thing they’re always trash talkin’ about…their big end game. They won’t go, though with it; they’re too chicken…’

    May I add, “Bwaak-bwak-buwk-buwk-bwaak”* to every time they complain and won’t “rap” outta’ here!

    *that’s my chicken sound…

  6. Hey, Johnny Boy…
    As is quite typical of you “Christian” dildos, you have it backwards.

    Morality, decency, honor, and integrity flow from Love for Humanity; not from fear of the boogeyman.

  7. As many here know, I am a devout Catholic. That is my preliminary disclaimer for what follows.

    First of all,Father Morris is not saying an atheist should not be allowed to be President, just that, for some weird reason, an aetheist President shouldn’t be trusted. This is, of course, a bunch of BS.

    But more importantly, he has several things wrong in my opinion. To me, at least, an eternal life is a benefit of acting in a loving, caring way to one’s fellow humnaity. It is not a reason to act that way. It is interesting that Pope Francis would also likely disagree with Father Morris as the Pope has stated he does not believe in an actual Hell.

    I do not believe one’s behavior should be based on a fear of punishment or hope for reward basis. That makes one’s behavior extremely selfish, which is the exact opposite of what Christ preached.

  8. God was created by man, not the other way around. There was a time when everyone thought the earth was flat. Look how that turned out. As science progresses further and further, I think fewer and fewer people (over the course of generations) will believe in a mythical supreme being in the sky.

  9. I would much rather see our leaders as well educated people who believe in science, economics and logic than one of these looneytoon fairy tale believig xtians.

    One does not have to be christian to be a good person or leader.


  11. I’m curious. Are you like most Catholics I see who pick and choose what they believe in? In other words I know Catholics who believe in birth control and abortion. I know many Catholics must believe in birth control because they have such small families and not like the ones before the pill. I’ve been told that many Catholics are “ala cart” Catholics. I’m just curious what you mean by devout.

  12. It’s ok to trust Republican Congressmen bearing false witness against The POTUS though right? You know, one of those pesky Ten Commandments? Hypocrites, you gotta love ’em. Or not.

  13. There are two Christian threads – one is personal salvation, damnation or repentance and the other is the ‘wisdom tradition’ of following the teachings on justice The latter these days marks most of the mainline Protestant denominations that are far more concerned with doing what is good and just on earth. So it is possible to have “religion” without petition to a ‘sky god/fairy’ or worry about eternal anything. The latter denominations are the ones Glenn Beck screeches must be avoided – those horrible ‘social justice’ ones – and that the religious right abhor and are trying to wipe out. The social justice thread are the leaders in promoting marriage equality and justice for all people – they were out for Occupy movement people and #BlackLivesMatter. So no – fear is NOT the only basis for faith and the inquiry into truth. It’s only the basis for those who think they’ve FOUND the truth – and don’t much like what they found.

  14. Strange how the ‘fear of damnation’ doesn’t do one whit towards preventing Religious folks from committing their crimes and atrocities.

  15. One does not have to be christian to be a good person or leader.

    As a Christian myself, I wholeheartedly agree.

  16. ALL gods were created by man, from time immemorial. When something happened that they couldn’t rationalize, they created a god to blame it on. Then they took it further and decided that when something bad happened, it was because they, themselves, angered the god (or gods/goddesses). That’s when the fear of god (or the gods) took over. The early Christians took their cues from the Hebrew myths and saw that religion was the way to control people. Roman Catholics took that to the nth degree. Muslims the same. Hindus decided to create the reincarnation myth, and some of them decided that not only could they be reincarnated as humans, they could also be reincarnated as animals. “Don’t eat that cow, it could be my mother”.
    The more educated and scientifically literate the population becomes, the sooner religious belief in god exits. Isn’t that what the fundies (of any religion) fear the most?

  17. I watch a show this a.m. called “The Nazi Gospel” and it was surprising to me how the tpublican agenda mimics Nazi Germany’s beginning. Strikingly similar. And Fox is just the propaganda machine similar to the ss(political soldiers).

  18. What next? If the President or future President doesn’t believe in the boogie man, we can’t abide that either? How is religion still a thing??

  19. bebe, in 1949 the conservatives went to Europe to seek out and bring back ex-Nazi’s including those who worked for Josef Goebbels the Nazi Propaganda Minister. Also after the FBI and Secret Service busted up the American Bund Party and the Silver Shirts these criminals went to work for Republican and Conservative politicians and other right wing groups.

  20. Pennsylvania’s Constitution still has a section which says, “No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth.” This provision has been in the constitution since 1776. The Commonwealth operates under its third constitution.

    I do not know of any case in well over 200 years where this section has ever been used to test the qualification of any official. It is clearly unconstitutional under the US Constitution.

    Personally, I do not trust a leader who only acts because he or she fears what will happen after this life. I want a leader who is more concerned with what their policies do to people in this life.

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