Originally published in the Orange County Register
As an American Muslim, I was surprised to read presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson’s recent remarks that a Muslim should never be U.S. president.
Perhaps Dr. Carson overlooked the fact that the Constitution (Article VI, Clause 3) states that religion should not be a determinant in any public office in the United States.
Perhaps he should be reminded that Thomas Jefferson, our third president, engaged with Islam and fought to ensure the rights of Muslims. Or rather than look that far back, he should follow the example of another prominent and highly respected member of his party, Colin Powell, who in 2008 responded to the notion of then presidential candidate Barack Obama being Muslim by reminding us that he wasn’t one, and even if he was a Muslim, it shouldn’t matter because the Constitution protects religious freedom.
Freedom of conscience, and the thought that anyone and everyone born in this nation, regardless of race, religion, gender or creed, could lead it one day, is what makes America great. I hope and pray the good doctor reconsiders his statement. It would be the presidential thing to do.