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Getting On : All My Politics

Keith Ellison: my two cents

from AnnaH - Thursday, December 07, 2006
accessed 1003 times

Some of you may have heard about a little brouhaha going on in the US about Senator Keith Ellison being sworn in with the Koran. The Christians are up in a rage saying this goes against America and our traditional Christian values. Never mind the fact that the Christians who founded our country were the ones who created Separation of Church and State.

I am going crazy? Because I thought we settled this a long time ago. We came to the realization that not everyone in the US is Christian and does not have to abide by the majority's Christian values. Why then the outrage if someone doesn't want to swear on a bible? Why do they even swear on a bible in the first place if we have Separation of Church and State? Or is it just the fact that it's the Koran, the symbol of everything America is at war with right now?

I love looking this up on blog-spots because you get priceless American views like this one:

"I think this is just the beginning of the end of America as we know it. Putting a Muslim in office in America at this time ensures that they have begun their takeover of America. This was a bad move on the part of Minnesota voters. I hope I am wrong, but the Muslims threaten over and over again to change the world to their belief and this is their chance to do it. Hope I am wrong, but I don't see any good coming from this."

Well, I got to say, the "Invade American Congress to institute an Islamic Sharia government" is a lot more effective than the "Blow America to Smithereens" plan. Maybe we should just let them have this one. Burqa? Life? Tough choice.

Another doozy:

"I understand that this senator will be sworn in with his hand on the Koran. My understanding of the Koran is that they are to "kill the infadels[sic]"(those that do not believe in the Koran).Our country was founded upon the belief in the one true God. Why then, should we allow and accept to let this happen. Our country, although made up of many fine nationalities, is based on the bible (which is proven factual by many ancient writings and findings).To even consider having the Koran writings in our government is an outrage. Those choosing to come to this country should accept our beliefs and democracy. I am afraid of where the people are allowing this country to go. Wake up Americans!"

Well, your understanding is worth exactly jack shit. Because if Muslims are supposed to "kill the infidels" than why don't you see the other 1.4 billion waging jihad? For that matter, why don't Christians stone adulteresses to death anymore? Could it be because we have free choice? That a book doesn't dictate every single facet of our lives? Or maybe you think the Muslims are just biding their time until a Muslim senator gets appointed and then all hell will break loose.

Do you think historians haven't proven events in the Koran to be true? Just because Jericho existed doesn't mean the walls came down because some assholes marched around it three times. As I said before, our country wasn't founded on the belief of one true god, it was founded on principles of equality and democracy and to protect that they instituted separation of church and state. Because they knew what happened when you mixed religion and politics: they don't! If you demand people to conform to your beliefs the minute they step into your country then you're no better than Islamic theocracies you hate so much.

Which brings to my next issue....this morning listening to talk radio on my way to work they had a debate about this between a Muslim and another scholar of some sort. Their debate was centered on the argument that if Muslims aren't tolerant to Christians and Jews in their countries than why should we tolerate them in ours. That instantly brought to mind the image of two fifth-graders fighting and their justification to their teacher is always "Well, he did it first" or "Well, he started it." My response to those children and to anyone else who ever uses this type of logic is this: THAT DOESN'T MAKE IT OKAY! You're only admitting that you're just as bad as the other. Does America really want to follow Saudi Arabia's example for tolerance? No, we are better than them, so let's act like it. We have to set the example for tolerance. After all, it's not as if we're giving up any rights by denying a Muslim's right to swear on the book of his choice.

They also kept referencing Saudi Arabia, which I found to be seriously flawed. Taking the most fundamentalist, extremist Muslim country(since the Taliban was uprooted in Afghanistan) in the world and holding it up as the standard for Muslims everywhere is just plain deceptive. If I was an intelligent, tolerant Muslim, I wouldn't want to be associated with those loonies.

In Saudi Arabia veiling is mandatory and women aren't allowed to drive. In Pakistan and Indonesia they have female prime ministers. In Turkey a woman was forbidden to be sworn into a government position wearing a veil. I'm not saying Muslim countries are one big picnic, lord knows most of them have problems with human rights, but it largely depends on the region.

I'll end with a brilliant quote from an anonymous poster on one of these blogs I looked at:

"What's next? An atheist, a pagan? Or, god forbid, someone with a brain?"

Reader's comments on this article

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from openmind
Thursday, December 14, 2006 - 18:19


RUN RUN!!! The muslims are coming! The muslims are coming! ... I suggest we all start by googling 'how to tie a turban', buy a compass on ebay so we know which direction mecca is, ... oh and don't forget to pick up the old floor mat from in front of the bathroom door and carry it wherever we go so when prayer time comes along we've got a mat handy.... and let's please put the changing of our first names to 'mohammed' on our 'to do list', and ... um ... well ... circumcision for those who still kept their foreskin on since birth
(reply to this comment)

from Phoenixkidd
Monday, December 11, 2006 - 07:54

I suggest we do away with any swearing by putting one's hand on a religious document. We should swear by putting our hand on the constitution, or nothing at all.
(reply to this comment)
From Peter
Friday, December 22, 2006, 02:21

That is actually how it works. At the official swearing in, the new members take the oath of office in a group and there is no use of religious texts whatsoever. Bibles or other religious texts are only used in private unofficial ceremonies designed to provide an individual photo op. It's sort of like those gigantic checks you see lottery winners or charities accepting at press conferences. They are just a PR prop and not actually negotiable instruments. Similarly, if a Congress critter takes the oath of office on a Bible, Koran, a Torah, the Bhagavad Gita or anything else it doesn't actually mean anything and happens only after the official group swearing in of new members. (reply to this comment
Friday, December 08, 2006 - 06:23

The ten commandments ammended

on religion

george Carlin

"I pray to Joe pesce"
(reply to this comment)
from conan
Friday, December 08, 2006 - 00:33

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
Yet more disturbing proof of America’s increasing stupidity and decreasing legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. The dichotomy of church and state is one of the fundamentally important cornerstones in this nation’s history and it’s a shame at how trivialized that issue has become in this era. During a time in which the world is at its most advanced stages intellectually and technologically, and the incredible ‘shrinking’ of our globe due to the close proximity via the Internet, etc., and where the ‘first world countries’ by and large have recognized unequivocal tolerance (at least at the governmental levels, on paper), this issue of religious tolerance has become so crippling that Americans are blind enough to take offense at an elected member of our government exercising his freedom of religion right to use the book of his religion to be sworn into office is phenomenally contemptible.

I’m actually genuinely incensed about this, not just trying to be sanctimoniously outraged because I think it’s the contemporary thing to do. Granted, the fact that I’m an atheistic agnostic certainly lends some bias to my feelings, but it’s really the horrible ignorance of the American public that gets to me. It’s true that our founding fathers were (for the most part) publicly puritanical Christian. It is also a fairly well known fact that many of these same founding fathers were freemasons. While freemasons do have a constitutional declaration in the belief of ‘Supreme Being’, they are non-denominational in the terms of any existing religion recognized by mainstream society. This apparent heterodoxy should bother the general public just as much as a Muslim man using the Koran to be sworn into public office, but because these issues are not quite as relevant to America’s failing campaign in Iraq during a tumultuous time in international politics, it’s a non-issue.

Someone has already posted the portion of the U.S. Constitution, (why posted anonymously I don’t know, but thanks for putting that up) which clearly states that the swearing in of a public official should never include a religious test. Now, as far as I’m able to ascertain, the swearing-in with a hand on the Bible is a tradition continued because of sentimentality and American tradition. George Washington, our nations first president, placed his hand on the Bible during his initial inauguration as he considered it to be a sacred book, and believed that this symbolic gesture would solidify the solemn oath he was taking. It has been conjectured that his hand trembled (being the first president of a fledgling nation that just defeated a world superpower and thereby immediately becoming a target for assassination is probably enough to make any mans hand shake) and so to keep it from doing so visibly, placed his hand on the Bible as it seemed the only book that might be sanctioned for such an act socially. This act as since become part of popular American public office, including other political swearing-ins, court room oaths (which is believe it or not, is not legally binding to swear with your hand on the Bible in order for testimony to be heard), and every president we’ve had since George Washington. (I haven’t found proof one-way or the other that every American president has used it, so that is pure conjecture on my part.)

Now, I have no problem with Mr. Washington and our subsequent presidents using this book as a ceremonial prop for a ceremony that proceeds the shift of our national (figure) head, but the book does not have any significance in the ceremony itself, or of the Presidential Oath. Clearly, using that book does not make a better president out of the men who’ve used it. (We’ve had our share of good and bad presidents, George Bush Jr. being one of the worst that comes to my mind, at least in recent history, and he used the Bible during his ceremony.) The United States has always had a legally binding separation of church and state, and I think that this topic has somehow gotten lost in mainstream America due to President Bush’s ‘holy war’ or self proclaimed ‘Crusade’ against what is perceived to be the religion of Islam itself. The fact that our president is Christian should not effect national policy and certainly should not infringe on any other book being used during a ceremony. It’s the oath that matters.

"What's next? An atheist, a pagan? Or, god forbid, someone with a brain?" God I hope so! Imagine how refreshing it would be to have a leader who doesn’t make decisions based on his religious adherences, but on an intellectual thought process which doesn’t give any gravity to the notion of an almighty element judging him. The thought of an atheist in power is one which I look forward to seeing materialize in my lifetime. It is just what we need in this time when almost every single war, or political altercation, is religiously motivated.

Back to the issue of our first Muslim congressman. I think it shows the progressiveness of some of our counties to see beyond religion as an effective trait of government. I think that our nation should try and use this as a way of promoting religious tolerance instead of turning this into the poster-child of the circumvention of America at the hands of Islam.

It’s ironic that Saddam Hussein is demonized for (among many things) his religious intolerance, with the persecution and mass-murder of differing branches of Islam, and the difficulties presented to other religions, specifically Christianity. And now, here in America, the “Land of the Free”, people are trying to have Congress pass a law that would make the Bible mandatory as the only recognized book for governmental ceremonies. Of course, this law would never make it past the Supreme Court as it is a clear violation of the ‘separation of church and state’, but the mere mention of this idea terrifies me when I think of the infinite innocence of our American public. This wouldn’t be an issue if the representative in question, Mr. Keith Ellison, were anything besides Muslim.

This issue goes further too, and I’m not going to go into every infinitesimal detail or I’ll bore the crap out of everyone on this site, but I did want to briefly mention the fact that the Pledge of Allegiance, (“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”) which is currently in the news with lawsuits in an effort to strike the ‘under God’ from its use, was originally written without that notorious phrase in it. It was actually written by an American socialist and it was bastardized in 1954 into its modern form. Francis Bellamy wrote it as follows: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. He had intended to include the word ‘equality’ instead of justice but knew that there was none when it came to women’s rights and the rights of African Americans.

In closing, I had one more thought on the original issue of a Koran being used during the swearing-in ceremony of a government official. I’m not suggesting that our next president swear-in to office with ‘The Origin of the Species’ under his hand, but I think that if this tradition of placing your hand on an article or collection of articles of some significance is to continue, then why not use a copy of our Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution or even just the Bill of Rights?
(reply to this comment)
From conan
Friday, December 08, 2006, 05:39

It turns out, not as many presidents as I thought used the Bible to take the oath of the office of the presidency. Yet another reason why the issue of the Koran is an issue at all. Who cares what our representatives, senators, judges, presidents, et., use. It's the oath itself that's relevant. Everything else is merely a prop.(reply to this comment
From Rain Child
Friday, December 08, 2006, 00:49

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
It might not be as serious as you think...while reading this I was amazed by your story of George Washington beginning the history of swearing on a Bible, as I would have guessed it was a much older European tradition. I took a look in the Wikipedia (fount of all modern wisdom) and while I did not find an answer to my question (at least not yet) I did find this:

The United States Congress does not officially swear anyone in using any holy book, "No Member of Congress is officially sworn in with a Bible. Under House rules, the official swearing-in ceremony is done in the House chambers, with the Speaker of the House administering the oath of office en masse.[15] No Bibles or other holy books are used at all. Members may, if they choose, also have a private ceremony with family and friends.[16] At these unofficial ceremonies, Members frequently solemnize the event by taking an oath while holding a personal family Bible."[17] “By tradition, all members of the House are sworn in together on the House floor. It's in the photo-op ceremony that a Bible is used or in Ellison's case, the Quran.”[18] The Press Secretary with the House Administration Committee stated that what Representatives do at the private ceremony is “between the new member and the Speaker’s office. They have to ‘work that out’.” [19] All incoming freshman to the 110th Congress “will be sworn in on Jan. 4 by the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.” [20]

Well that's a relief.(reply to this comment
From Samuel
Friday, December 08, 2006, 05:12


I completely agree. The truth still has a tendency to pop up every now and then in the middle of a heated political debate : o P

Think about it. If he swears on a Bible what is that going to mean to him? To me, taking an oath is more than just a ceremony. It's making a promise to yourself and to God (if you belive in one) and in this case to the people that elected you. He probably thinks the Bible is a forgery. Since he swore on the Koran, he'll at least feel more obligated to fulfill that promise that he made.

I wish him good luck.(reply to this comment

from It;s not just a good idea, it' s the law...
Thursday, December 07, 2006 - 21:18


United States Constitution, Article VI Clause 3:

"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."
(reply to this comment)

From Jedran
Friday, December 08, 2006, 03:16

That means you can be any religion but it has no bearing on the fact that you can or cannot be sworn in with a religious text.(reply to this comment

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