The Editors: Politicians fail the country by applying religious tests

Vladimir Weinstein/Michael Priest Photography

On Jan. 16, the U.S. Senate unanimously adopted a resolution “to reaffirm religious liberty and condemn religious tests for federal officials.” It may seem odd that such an affirmation was necessary, and it is odder still that the proximate occasion of the resolution was the suggestion in confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Knights of Columbus represent a form of dangerous extremism.

The resolution was proposed by Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, in response to a line of questioning by two Democrats during the late November confirmation hearings for Brian Buescher, who had been nominated for a judgeship for the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. Senator Kamala Harris of California asked Mr. Buescher if he was aware of the Knights’ advocacy against abortion when he joined and asked if he agreed with a statement from the Carl Anderson, who leads the Knights, describing abortion as “killing on a massive scale.” Senator Mazie Hirono, of Hawaii, described the Knights as having taken a “number of extreme positions,” referring to their opposition to same-sex marriage, and asked if Mr. Buescher would leave the Knights, who number more than two million members, if confirmed in order to avoid any appearance of bias.

This line of questioning has been widely criticized as displaying anti-Catholic bias, and certainly the willingness of two senators to depict a Catholic fraternal organization present in parishes across the country and…

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