The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s legislative arm is calling out Oregon state Rep. E. Werner Reschke for recent comments revealing clear prejudice against non-Christians holding public office.
Reschke was recently interviewed by notorious Christian nationalist Jason Rapert, during which he made the following statement:
Those [people like George Washington, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan] are the type of people that you want in government making tough decisions during tough times. You don’t want a materialist. You don’t want an atheist. You don’t want a Muslim. You want somebody who understands what truth is and understands the nature of man, the nature of government, and the nature of God.
“As I’m sure you are aware, every reference to religion in the U.S. Constitution is exclusionary, including: a direct prohibition on religious tests for public office, an implicit prohibition in the godless oath of office prescribed for the presidency and later, in the First Amendment’s historic bar of any establishment of religion by the government,” FFRF Action Fund President Annie Laurie Gaylor writes to Reschke.
The proscription against religion in government has served the United States well, with the U.S. Constitution now the longest living constitution in history, with America spared the constant religious wars afflicting theocratic nations around the world.
Christianity and religion in general are inherently divisive, FFRF underscores. Reschke’s comments prove that to be true. Keeping religion separate from government is a fundamental American ideal, essential for true religious freedom, and has been a tremendous asset to American society. Lawmakers should represent their constituents regardless of religious beliefs or lack thereof. Reschke’s advocacy for strictly Christian governance is un-American.
Aside from the historic inaccuracies in Reschke’s assertions, which FFRF Action Fund debunks, his statement that only Christians are capable of serving in a government position runs counter to America’s founding principles and the views of most Americans, including Christians. Many American Christians respect the diversity of American culture, and understand that their peers may not share their religious values, as evidenced by groups such as Christians Against Christian Nationalism. Anyone who respects American values must oppose comments promoting Christian nationalism, as the two ideologies are fundamentally at odds.
Besides, nonreligious Americans are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population by religious identification at 28 percent, with 37 percent of Americans overall being non-Christian. Reschke represents all constituents in his district, including those who do not share his personal religious beliefs. His comments convey that he considers non-Christians second-class citizens simply because of their religious identity or nonreligious identity. This too is un-American.
The FFRF Action Fund is therefore calling on Reschke to either apologize to all non-Christian and nonreligious citizens in his district or resign.
“Rep. Reschke ought to read the secular Constitution he took an oath to uphold,” says Gaylor. “It explicitly bars any religious test for public office. His statements are abhorrent and un-American.”
FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues. FFRF Action Fund is the lobbying arm for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which has over 40,000 members across the country, including over 1,100 members in Oregon.