Friday, December 22, 2006

Bigotry Lives

First Dennis Prager and now Republican Representative Virgil Goode (R-VA): there is something offensive to many Americans about a Muslim congressman (Rep. Keith Ellison, D-MN) being unofficially sworn in as a Congressman using a Koran rather than a Bible.

Mr. Prager isn’t bothered by the fact that Congressman Ellison is a Muslim, but he is troubled by the fact that he will use a Koran rather than a Christian Bible in his unofficial swearing-in ceremony. The implication seems to be that if you cannot be sworn in on a Christian Bible you have no right to be a member of the American government. He believes that America is morally founded on this document and that it rather than a Jewish Bible, Koran, or any other text should be used. As Prager said to Tucker Carlson on MSNBC, “My belief that the Bible should be present at any oath (or affirmation) of office has nothing whatsoever to do with the religion of the office holder…”

In other words it doesn’t matter if the person swearing on the Bible believes in the Bible as long as he or she goes through the motions. Does that make sense to you? The whole point of swearing on a Bible is to make the oath all the more sacred. If the book upon which you are swearing is not sacred to you swearing on it is an empty act.

Where Prager is worried about the Bible, Representative Virgil Goode is worried about Muslims, warning America that if we don’t do something about immigration it will only be a few years before America is ruled by the Taliban (the Muslim Taliban not the Republican Christian Taliban that rules Texas [read the Platform of the Republican Party of Texas]).

It doesn’t matter that Representative Ellison traces his American roots back to the 18th century; it doesn’t matter that having to use a Christian Bible seems like a blatant violation of the Constitutional position against having a religious test for the holding of public office; it doesn’t matter that using a book in which you do not believe is promoting hypocrisy not virtue— what matters is that these people are spouting frighteningly anti-American bullshit. (It isn’t the BS that bothers me but the anti-American aspect of it.)

If I wanted my government officials to swear on an ethical text that is not compromised by violence and God-sanctioned immorality as are both the Bible and Koran, I might suggest the Tao te Ching I or the Dhammapada.. If I wanted something less religious I might suggest Goodnight Moon, but if I really want to be outrageous let me suggest that they hold a copy of the Constitution of the United States.

I don’t care if Rep. Ellison upholds the Koran. I do care that he and everyone else in government upholds the Constitution.

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