As correctly pointed out by Justice Joseph Story in his Commentaries (see below) that clause broke any union between church and state (it separated church and state).
Section 1841. The remaining part of the clause declares, that "no religious test shall ever be required, as a" qualification to any office or public trust, under the "United States." This clause is not introduced merely for the purpose of satisfying the scruples of many respectable persons, who feel an invincible repugnance to any religious test, or affirmation. It had a higher object; to cut off forever every pretence of any alliance between church and state in the national government. The framers of the constitution were fully sensible of the dangers from this source, marked out in the history of other ages and countries; and not wholly unknown to our own. They knew, that bigotry was unceasingly vigilant in its stratagems, to secure to itself an exclusive ascendancy over the human mind; and that intolerance was ever ready to arm itself with all the terrors of the civil power to exterminate those, who doubted its dogmas, or resisted its infallibility. The Catholic and the Protestant had alternately waged the most ferocious and unrelenting warfare on each other; and Protestantism itself, at the very moment, that it was proclaiming the right of private judgment, prescribed boundaries to that right, beyond which if any one dared to pass, he must seal his rashness with the blood of martyrdom. (1) The history of the Parent country, too, could not fail to instruct them in the uses, and the abuses of religious tests.
It was not an accident that the No Religious Test was put in the constitution.
In the final version of the First Amendment, congressmen and senators used the broader word “religion,” and when discussing the issue of “free exercise” of religion they never limited its meaning to Christianity or Judaism.
No wonder. The new states in the 1790s already exhibited exceptional religious diversity—at least twenty-five different versions of Christianity, plus Judaism and Islam—and Americans seemed more fascinated than worried about religious diversity. In 1784 Hannah Adams of Medfield, Massachusetts, found a huge audience for her book “Alphabetical Compendium of the Various Sects which have Appeared in the World from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Present Day.”
In justifying constitutional prohibitions on the admission of ministers to state legislatures, Americans typically questioned whether it was proper for men of the cloth to hold office of a sort that could only distract them from higher obligations. For example, the 1778 South Carolina Constitution declared "And whereas the ministers of the gospel are by their profession dedicated to the service of God and the cure of souls and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their function, therefore no minister of the gospel or public preacher of any religious persuasion, while he continues in the exercise of his pastoral funcation, and for two years after, shall be eligible either as governor, lieutenant governor, a member of the senate, house of representatives, or privy Council in this state.
Again from No Religious Test
As a secular state, America is a nation in which neither religion nor irreligion enjoys any official status and where no church or religion is to enjoy any advantages or to suffer any disadvantages because of an establishment of religion. Religious identity is made irrelevant to one's rights of citizenship, e.g., the right to vote and to hold public office. One's religion or irreligion may not be made the basis of political privilege or discrimination. At a time when there is a resurgence of the notion of a "Christian America" in the body politic, the Bicentennial of the Constitution is an especially appropriate time to reflect on the meaning and significance of church and state in American public life. In doing so, proper attention needs to be given to the importance of Article VI in America's body politic and nationhood. In recent years, the growing tendency of candidates for public office to stress their religious credentials, to use religion to serve their own political purposes, and to use political means for the advancement of religious interests needs to be seen in the context of America as a secular state--"to be nonreligious in its civil life."
Yup, tha'ts Rick Perry who is especially laying it on thick right now.
It's time we HONOR the constitution and quit letting these charletons who want to sneer at the idea of No Religious Test from hornswaggling sincere people of faith into thinking that's what's needed to fix the country.
Perry reminds me of a bad guy in a 1980s cop show where he's a well-groomed well-known business man who commits murder and/or has a secret drug running operation or something. I'm not saying he's done either he's just looks the part.
Perry doesn't like debates b/c he isn't a stateman, but a minister, and using the government pulpit is his niche to rise above the gods. It is a thinly disguised syndrome to which Americans should be familiar, as well as wary.
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