So Obama finally ditched his church of 20 years because of the latest sensational sermon from the Trinity pulpit, this time by a guest preacher – a Catholic priest no less. Go here and here for the details.

I have no problem with Obama having to explain and account for his 20 year presence in this radical black liberation church. He is a bit of an empty slate. We should be concerned about his thinking and worldview on religion, theology, and its role in government and politics.

Likewise, I had no problem with Mitt Romney having to answer for his Mormonism in the same way.

But, I am troubled by the future.

On the one hand, the religion of our candidates and leaders has always been a legitimate ground of inquiry. It was certainly important at the American Founding. The debate in the Constitutional Convention over the Constitution’s Sec. VI ban of religious tests and oaths was considerable. It has been grounds for debate among candidates and often used as a political tool against candidates.

So, I guess we should not be surprised if religion has become a hot-button issue in the 2008 campaign. Should we be troubled still?

Wouldn’t it be better if we just swept all this stuff under the rug? What if we had a rule that said – religion is off-limits. We are not going to talk about or debate whether a person’s religion is relevant to their qualifications for holding political office. Wouldn’t that be consistent with the Constitution’s Section VI ban on religious tests?

While you’re chewing on that, think about these:

1. A popular, well-liked Atheist decides to run for President. He declares that he has no problem with religion and people who believe in God. He just doesn’t and is not afraid to say it. He has a lot of great ideas and his politics are in line with what you believe. Would you vote for him?

2. A confessional, conservative Lutheran runs for President. During his campaign, all sorts of mp3s, videos, and pdfs, show up in the media. They are taken from sermons in his church, new member packets in his church, and statements of doctrine from the LCMS and his church. The media is particularly interested in his church’s views about the ordination of women, the fact that women cannot vote or hold office in his church, his church’s view about the anti-christ and the papal office, as well as his views about the inerrancy of scripture and whether Genesis describes real people and real events. Are these subjects legitimate grounds of inquiry? Should the candidate be called upon to defend or reject these views in a public forum?