Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

November 29, 2006

Much Ado About Nothing

by Doug Mataconis

Stephen Bainbridge and James Joyner both comment on this Dennis Prager column at Human Events. Prager. it seems, is atwitter because Keith Ellison, a Democrat elected in the 2006 elections and the first Muslim elected to Congress, wants to take his oath of office with his hand on the Koran, not the Bible.

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.
He should not be allowed to do so — not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.
First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism — my culture trumps America’s culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.

There’s just one problem with Prager’s hypothesis. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say anything about Members of Congress, or Senators, or the President, taking their respective oaths with their hand on a Bible, or any other book. True, its been a long standing practice that dates back to George Washington, but it is not a requirement. If a member of Congress wanted, there is nothing preventing them from taking their oath with their hand on a copy of the Manhattan Yellow Pages.

Moreover, Prager’s insistence that only the Bible can used would be a clear violation of this provision of Article VI of the Constitution:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

No religious test, and no requirement that you place your hand on any book when being sworn into office. Seems pretty simple to me.

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  • http://www.indiancowboy.net/blog Nick

    Heh, I used to joke when I was a kid that if I ever had to take an oath I’d ask for a copy of the Gita

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    Other than religion, what separates Dennis Prager from a member of the Taliban?

  • http://noangst.blogspot.com mike

    Propensity towards violence.

    Demanding that your religion is the best and that everyone should be required to follow it is one thing. Backing up that belief by stoning women and ripping men apart by tying their arms to two jeeps and hitting the gas is quite another.

    Moral equivalency is a slippery slope.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    Demanding that your religion is the best and that everyone should be required to follow it is one thing. Backing up that belief by stoning women and ripping men apart by tying their arms to two jeeps and hitting the gas is quite another.

    History shows that the former usually leads to the latter. The only thing stopping theocons like Prager is fortunately, the majority of Americans don’t support them.

  • A Hermit

    I notice Prager doesn’t provide any kind of reference to back up his assertion that Ellison said anything of the kind. Did Prager just make this up? According to ThinkProgress The swearing-in ceremony for the House of Representatives never includes a religious book.

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  • GoodMemory

    Hell…

    At least the guy is not wanting to take the oath with his hand on a copy of his personal financial portfolio.

    That’s what would be most appropriate for the majority of the members anyway…

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  • Vernon Wickstrom

    Having listened to a talk last night by Dennis prager at The Los Angeles Jewish Temple. Dennis said that his wish is that the issue of swearing on the Koran should go away and that the Bible is Symbolic of America and must be its Holy book to swear on. Dennis said his senses do not encourage the use of the Torah nor any other Holy Book for this part–but the traditional American moral-valued symbol–The Bible.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Unfortunately for Mr. Prager, the position he holds is completely at odds with the Constitution, history, and common sense.

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