July 24, 2014 · 26 Tamuz

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Reform Jewish Leader Calls on President Bush to Clarify That There Should Be No Religious Tests for Political Office, Including the Office of the United States President
In response to President Bush’s remarks in The Washington Times, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement noting," I urge the President to clarify his remarks given in an interview with the Washington Times, January 11, 2005, in which he stated that: “… I don’t see how you can be President at least from my perspective, how you can be President, without a relationship to the Lord.”

Contact: Alexis Rice or  Eric Gold 202.387.2800

WASHINGTON, January 12, 2005 — In response to President Bush’s remarks in The Washington Times, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

    I urge the President to clarify his remarks given in an interview with the Washington Times, January 11, 2005, in which he stated that:  “… I don’t see how you can be President at least from my perspective, how you can be President, without a relationship to the Lord.”  

    While the Reform Jewish Movement has had differences with this Administration on separation of church and state policies, we have worked with the President on religious freedom issues and have seen his commitment to and appreciation of religious diversity both here and abroad.  But on its face, the President’s comments imply that only people with faith in God would be suitable for the office of President of the United States.  This would suggest that millions of Americans whose religious beliefs do not accept monotheism, and millions of non-believers, are unfit to be the President of our nation.  This is difficult to reconcile with the clear spirit and intent of the Constitution’s ban of a religious test in order to hold public office.  It undermines the genius of our Founders’ promise, inherent in the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of our Constitution, that in America one’s rights and opportunities as a citizen should never depend upon his or her religious identity, practices, or beliefs.   

    I do not believe that this is what the President intended, and I urge him to clarify this off-the-cuff statement in a manner that affirms the President’s oft-stated commitment to religious pluralism, tolerance, and equality.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.

 



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