Broadly, questions fall into two types: natural or theological. Natural questions are those open to scientific investigation. Example of natural questions are:
- Is global climate change caused by human activity?
- Would al Qaeda cease attacking us if we ceased supporting Isreal and Saudi Arabia?
- Should the United States military include both blitzkrieg and COIN capacity
Theological questions, on the other hand, question the nature of God and His relationship to other things. Examples of theological questions are:
- Is there Hypostatic Union of Human and Divine Nature in the Second Person of the Trinity?
- Do all non-Missouri-Lutherans go to Hell?
- Can Allah destroy the Koran?
In general, one might say that deciding who to vote for on account of natural questions is applying a “natural test.” Likewise, deciding who to vote for on account of theological questions would be applying a “religious test.”
Certainly, some people use religious reasons to answer natural questions. Thus, Paul argued that Christians should support the State, while Martin Luther King, Jr. agitated for civil rights for American blacks. Though some people are uncomfortable with religious motives for natural tests, there exists a broad consensus that religious beliefs can meaningfully inform political and economic structure, among both Catholics and Protestants.
However, fewer people support the idea of Religious Tests for office. Left-leaning Salon snickered at evangelicals who refused to vote for Mitt Romney. Even right-wing commentators limited their concern over a Muslim congressman to how he would answer natural questions.
Thus, I was surprised that Eddie of Hidden Unities argued in favor of a religious test for President. Specifically, Eddie appeared to argue for a cordon sanitaire against ministers who give incorrect answers to the theological question of who will go to Heaven or Hell, among other things.
I was taken aback by Eddie’s assertion. So far my friend has neither supported nor renounced his claim, though it has made me think about a question that previously I took to be a no-brainer. So
Should there be a religious test for government office?
If so, which theological questions must candidates and their associates answer correctly?