The Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, expresses our support for the Knights of Columbus in the recent controversy over the questioning of Brian Buescher, a nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Kamala Harris (D-California).
Hirono and Harris questioned Buescher sharply over his membership in the Knights of Columbus, a service organization of the Catholic Church, claiming that the organization “has taken a number of extreme positions.” Their questioning led Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) to introduce Senate Resolution 19 (S.Res.19), “A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that disqualifying a nominee to Federal office on the basis of membership in the Knights of Columbus violates the Constitution of the United States.”
The Order applauds the adoption of S.Res.19 and hopes that it will bring this unfortunate episode to an end. Religious tests for public office are prohibited in the Constitution of the United States. Disqualifying judicial or other appointees on the basis of membership in the Knights of Columbus opens the door to their disqualification on the basis of membership in other groups. It is therefore imperative in order to protect religious freedom in the United States that all religious organizations, and all those who value the freedom of religion, stand in solidarity today with the Knights of Columbus.
The Order also expresses our gratitude to Senator Sasse defending religious freedom. Our rights and freedom are always only as strong as their defenders, and we appreciate Senator Sasse’s swift action on this issue. It has been over fifty years after the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory, traveled to Selma, Alabama to stand in solidarity with Martin Luther King. It would be a tragedy if the nation in which Archbishop Iakovos worked so hard and risked so much to end racial discrimination were now to put religious discrimination in its place.
Anthony J. Limberakis, MD