It's Sunday, but instead of complaining about George Will's complaining–we'll do that tomorrow maybe–let's just read Michael Medved and marvel:
Actually, there’s little chance that atheists will succeed in placing one of their own in the White House at any time in the foreseeable future, and it continues to make powerful sense for voters to shun potential presidents who deny the existence of God. An atheist may be a good person, a good politician, a good family man (or woman), and even a good patriot, but a publicly proclaimed non-believer as president would, for three reasons, be bad for the country.
Hollowness and Hypocrisy at State Occasions. As Constitutional scholars all point out, the Presidency uniquely combines the two functions of head of government (like the British Prime Minister) and head of state (like the Queen of England). POTUS not only appoints cabinet members and shapes foreign policy and delivers addresses to Congress, but also presides over solemn and ceremonial occasions. Just as the Queen plays a formal role as head of the Church of England, the President functions as head of the “Church of America” – that informal, tolerant but profoundly important civic religion that dominates all our national holidays and historic milestones. For instance, try to imagine an atheist president issuing the annual Thanksgiving proclamation. To whom would he extend thanks in the name of his grateful nation –-the Indians in Massachusetts?
Well, he probably ought to thank the Indians in Massachusetts, but that's another matter. The more basic point is this: last time I checked, there is no "Church of America," so that analogy does even rise to the level of weakness. Solemn occasions are somewhat like church–you can't get up and go to the bathroom, you sit or stand watching a podium where someone talks–but that's about it. Besides, if those things make something "church," if only analogously, then as one who talks somewhat ceremoniously to a group of people who may or may not have to go to the bathroom, I'm a priest.