And few things impact your political outlook more than faith—whether it derives from Christ, Marx, or Ayn Rand.  So yes, the Constitution says that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. What it doesn’t say is that voters are prohibited from being critical of your illiberal, troglodytic, or silly notions about the world.

When Republican presidential candidate and (surprisingly) inarticulate retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson says, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation; I absolutely would not agree with that,” he designates all American Muslims—those who are most law-abiding, secularized, moderate, and fighting radicalism themselves—as members of a Fifth Column. Framed like this, it is both ugly and prejudicial. But is any concern over religious affiliation of a candidate tantamount to bigotry? Because if it is, we are a nation of haters.

A gay man avoids voting for the evangelical Christian who contends his favorite philosopher is Jesus Christ or the practicing Catholic who regards traditional marriage as sacrament. The media would never consider such a man a bigot. In fact, they would almost certainly comprehend his reluctance. If it were intolerant to take into account someone’s faith before casting a vote, then everyone who’s ever made fun of an evolution-denying Christian would be considered a chauvinist.