Several Republican leaders have condemned Michele Bachmann’s witch hunt of Huma Abedin, but none of them with as strong a record as a conservative than Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin. Asked about the issue at a townhall meeting, Sensenbrenner not only defended Abedin but the very idea of religious equality:
SENSENBRENNER: Let me say that I do know Huma Abedin and I think that the comments that were made about her in that letter, whether or not they were taken out of context, were the wrong thing to do… I think the Constitution in saying that there shall never be a religious test for any office of trust and profit under the United States meant that people should not be judged on the basis of their religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs. That was Thomas Jefferson that put that in the Constitution — I think he was right.
CONSTITUENT: I think that there’s a political ideology that’s a concern in Islam that is concerning and that should be looked at and we should know that this person is not a threat…
SENSENBRENNER: Heidi, Heidi, Heidi, the First Amendment prohibits the government from making a distinction between what is “good religion” and what is “bad religion.” That’s none of the government’s business. Religion is a personal issue to every one of the people who lives in the United States, whether you practice a faith, how you practice a faith, whether you don’t practice a faith, whether you say you’re a member of a faith but don’t practice it, it’s none of the government’s business. And this is the whole issue of religious freedom. And that has been one of the most cherished freedoms that this country has had since it’s beginning.
He’s wrong about Jefferson putting the no religious test clause in the constitution — Jefferson wasn’t at the constitutional convention, he was in France at the time — but it’s nice to hear him condemn Bachmann and take a stand on the right side of this one.