Of course, McCain pointed out, “We welcome the poor, the tired, the huddled masses,” in theory at least. “But when they come here they know that they are in a nation founded on Christian principles.”
Has the candidates’ personal faith become too big an issue in the presidential race?
Questions about that are very legitimate. ... And it’s also appropriate for me at certain points in the conversation to say, look, that’s sort of a private matter between me and my Creator. ... But I think the number one issue people should make [in the] selection of the President of the United States is, “Will this person carry on in the Judeo-Christian principled tradition that has made this nation the greatest experiment in the history of mankind?”
It doesn’t seem like a Muslim candidate would do very well, according to that standard.
I admire the Islam. There’s a lot of good principles in it. I think one of the great tragedies of the 21st century is that these forces of evil have perverted what’s basically an honorable religion. But, no, I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles ... personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith. But that doesn’t mean that I’m sure that someone who is Muslim would not make a good president. I don’t say that we would rule out under any circumstances someone of a different faith. I just would—I just feel that that’s an important part of our qualifications to lead.
People are raising similar concerns about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, which some consider to be outside the Judeo-Christian tradition.
I believe that the Mormon religion is a religion that I don’t share, but I respect. More importantly, I’ve known so many people of the Mormon faith who have been so magnificent. I think that Governor Romney’s religion should not, absolutely not, be a disqualifying factor when people consider his candidacy for President of the United States, absolutely not.
A recent poll found that 55 percent of Americans believe the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation. What do you think?
I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation. But I say that in the broadest sense. The lady that holds her lamp beside the golden door doesn’t say, “I only welcome Christians.” We welcome the poor, the tired, the huddled masses. But when they come here they know that they are in a nation founded on Christian principles.