As I’ve told you on numerous occasions, the religious right’s claim that all it wants is a place at the table for socially conservative Americans falls apart like a house of cards once you hear what its leaders say when they don’t think anyone else is listening. What they really want is to put the First Amendment in the shredder and turn this country into a Christian version of Afghanistan under the Taliban. We got another example of this last week. A veteran religious right activist declared that the only people who are qualified for public office are Christian men.
Gary Cass, the executive director of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, recently put out a video seminar entitled “The Biblical Qualifications For Political Office.” It’s an attempt to outline what he sees are the things Christian conservatives should look for in candidates. Watch here.
Cass has been active on the religious right for the better part of three decades; he was once executive director of D. James Kennedy’s Center for Reclaiming America. Kennedy, for those who don’t know, was one of the most prominent religious right-aligned pastors for the better part of three decades while helming Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale. He died in 2007, and Cass is one of many people carrying on his mantle.
As Cass sees it, one of the “basic biblical qualifications” for those seeking office is that they must be Christian. Since a candidate’s faith “will profoundly shape his leadership,” our leaders must be people who are “alive spiritually and will lead in the fear of God.” He recalled a quote from John Jay–one frequently used by the religious right.
“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
For that reason, anyone who doesn’t have “a professed faith in Christ” isn’t qualified for office.
We already know what Cass’ definition of “Christian” is. Seven years ago, Cass’ organization put out a list of seven reasons why Barack Obama wasn’t a Christian. Supposedly, Obama had no right to claim he was a Christian because he doesn’t believe the Bible is inerrant and openly supports homosexuality and abortion. This list resurfaced last spring, when a teacher in Georgia told her students that Obama wasn’t really a Christian, and gave outraged parents the CADC list when they demanded an explanation.
By Cass’ standards, virtually every Democrat in elected office would not be qualified to serve. Remember, folks, for the better part of three decades, the religious right has tried to make people think you can’t be a Christian and a Democrat. Plus, I find it hard to believe it’s a coincidence that this video is coming out when one of the highest-profile candidates in the race is Bernie Sanders, a Jew. This video amounts to an announcement in capital letters that if Cass had his way, the First Amendment and Article Six of the Constitution would go in the dumpster.
But that isn’t all. Cass thinks that women aren’t qualified for office because “the biblical biological requirement for office is (that) you must be male.” Cass argued that political leadership ought to be “an extension of the family,” of which the man is the head. He argued that while there were a number of instances in the Bible where God raised up female leaders, it’s an “indictment” of society when there are no “strong, godly men” to lead and guide society. Uh huh. So it’s an “indictment” of our society that Hillary Clinton is even running for president? Or that we have six female governors?
Now you’re probably wondering why this should concern us. This isn’t just the ranting of a fringe fundie. This is a guy who is one of the most senior activists in the religious right, someone who worked under one of its most prominent leaders. And now he has laid threadbare the kind of society he would create if he had his way.