The Washington Post's profile of Ashton Carter includes the eyebrow-raising detail that the longtime Washington insider, whom President Barack Obama is expected to nominate to succeed ousted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, "wrote an undergraduate thesis at Yale on the Latin writings of 12th-century Flemish monks." It also quotes Carter as saying:
Public service at senior levels in Washington is a little bit like being a Christian in the Coliseum. ... You never know when they are going to release the lions and have you torn apart for the amusement of onlookers.
Hmm… he is fluent in Latin, took an academic interest in the writings of medieval monks, and jokes casually about identifying with a Christian in the Coliseum. You think he might be… oh, I don't know… Christian?
The WaPo doesn't say. Neither does The New York Times in its profile of Carter. In fact, in a few minutes scouting the Interwebs, I couldn't find anything, anywhere, indicating that Carter had any faith, or no faith.
I did, however, find a fact about Carter that, as of this writing, has been overlooked by all the print media covering his planned nomination: In the aftermath of 9/11, he was among the prominent endorsers of a "Declaration of Principles for a Presidential Executive Order on Prisoner Treatment, Torture and Cruelty" created by the Campaign to Ban Torture. (Click here to read the declaration.) According to its website, the campaign was:
…an initiative of the Center for Victims of Torture, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and Evangelicals for Human Rights (today called the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good) aimed at securing a presidential executive order that would ban torture and cruel treatment in counterterrorism activities. The goal was to join CVT’s voice with the voices of national religious leaders and those of the nation’s military, national security and foreign policy leaders.
So, we know Carter is not averse to working with religious groups, and that he took a principled stand on an issue that galvanized faith communities during the years before Obama's 2009 executive order banning torture (although, as GetReligion noted at the time, not everyone of faith was on the "anti-torture" side).
Meanwhile, the Times of Israel reports that Carter is "quietly supportive of Israel [and] loud on stopping Iran" -- though it too omits any information on his religion.
It seems to me that Carter's belief, or nonbelief, would be of interest to many Americans who would like to know what are the moral principles driving the man in line to be Defense Secretary. Even with his being unwilling to comment on his nomination, surely some reporter could have asked one of his former colleagues about it. What do you think?