Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Oath of Office

Keith Ellison is the first Muslim ever elected to the United States Congress. Ellison swore in with the 110th United States Congress using a copy of the Koran which once belonged to Thomas Jefferson. This decision drew a lot of criticism. One of the most notable critics of Ellison's swearing in ceremony is Dennis Prager. In November of 2006, Prager's criticism raised a controversial question:

Why doesn't US law only allow the Bible to be used during oath of office ceremonies?

Prager basically argues that American government's core values are based upon the Bible; therefore, using the Koran in it's place is un-American and unconstitutional.

Prager apparently has never read the First Amendment.

Also, Prager probably has never heard of the Treaty of Tripoli.

I've said this in a recent post . . . I don't mind our currency and our Pledge having "God" included. I don't even mind swearing on a Bible -- although the Bible has a few scripture passages which expressly forbid swearing or taking oaths. Check out Steve Wells' blog entry about swearing oaths at Dwindling Unbelief. He does a good job of making the same point I'd like to make about using the Bible in oath ceremonies.

But in the end, none of this should matter. Ellison should get to use his Koran. And let Prager use his Bible. Should more atheists become a part of Congress, let them use thin air (as many Congressmen already do --regardless of faith). Or maybe atheists can use Steve Wells' The Skeptic's Anontated Bible.

Now that would be a great leap forward in the freedom of religious expression!

With President-elect Obama's inauguration drawing near, I wonder what text will he use. People have accused Obama of being a Muslim all this time; people fear a Muslin taking high office and derailing America through abusing the executive powers of the office of President.

I wonder how many people would explode if Obama were to swear on a Koran.

I hope Obama would choose to use nothing at all. But even that action may incriminate him in the eyes of his critics.

So to be safe, Obama will probably follow suite with the other Presidents before him and take his Oath of Office on a Bible.

Hell . . . in the end, that's fine with me.
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