During a September 20 appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson spoke against a Muslim holding the office of the President of the United States.
In 1772, Founding Father Samuel Adams laid down limits to religious tolerance that also would have prevented a Muslim from being president by refusing any toleration of Islam in the first place.
According to The Hill, Carson said, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” Carson’s words come in the wake of a media backlash against Donald Trump for not defending Muslims–or speaking up for Obama’s faith–after a questioner at a September 17 town hall meeting asked Trump what he was going to do about the Muslim “problem” in America and suggested that Obama is a Muslim.
Although Carson does not believe a Muslim should be president, he says he would not have a problem with a Muslim being a member of Congress under the right conditions. Carson said, “It depends on who that Muslim is and what their policies are, just as it depends on what anybody else says, you know.”
It is interesting to note that in 1772 Sam Adams wrote “The Rights of the Colonists,” through which he set forth a litmus test for religions that could be tolerated under the new government colonists would form. Adams’ litmus test rules out theocracies like Islam.
Hanover College published “The Rights of the Colonists,” in which Adams wrote:
In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practised, and, both by precept and example, inculcated on mankind. And it is now generally agreed among Christians that this spirit of toleration, in the fullest extent consistent with the being of civil society, is the chief characteristical mark of the Church. Insomuch that Mr. Locke has asserted and proved, beyond the possibility of contradiction on any solid ground, that such toleration ought to be extended to all whose doctrines are not subversive of society. The only sects which he thinks ought to be, and which by all wise laws are excluded from such toleration, are those who teach doctrines subversive of the civil government under which they live.
So Adams sets forth a test for ascertaining which religions should be tolerated and that test is whether the “doctrines”–or teachings–of a given religion are “subversive of society.” Adams contended that religions “are excluded from… toleration” when they “teach doctrines subversive of the civil government.”
One would think of the Muslim tendency to seek sharia law and sharia-compliant courts instead of laws and courts affiliated with constitutionally recognized jurisprudence. It would follow that one would presume the theocratic nature of Islam, whereby every facet of life–including matters of civil governance–are co-opted as part of the religion.
Theocracies can tend toward fascism, and although Adams did not employ such a term in opposing toleration for religions “subversive of the civil government,” he certainly made the same point.
At the time of Adams’ writing, he called the Roman Catholic religion by name, suggesting practitioners of that faith forfeited toleration due to “such doctrines as these, that princes excommunicated may be deposed, and those that they call heretics may be destroyed without mercy; besides their recognizing the Pope in so absolute a manner, in subversion of government.”
We do not see the Roman Catholic church destroying those “they call heretics… without mercy” in our day. But it is common to find examples of Muslims demanding that infidels convert to Islam or face death. And they do so with an allegiance to Muhammad that both supersedes and defines their allegiance to civil government.
While Ben Carson opposes the idea of having a Muslim for president, Sam Adams would have opposed toleration for the Muslim faith in general.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.