Friday, December 01, 2006

Swear on the Magic Book of Your Choice

Keith Ellison, a newly elected member of the House of Representatives wants to take his oath of office with his hand on the Qu'ran rather than on the Christian bible. This, apparently, disturbs some people. The whole thing amuses me because the bible people swear on teaches against the swearing of oaths to begin with. But, its easier to worship a book than to read it, and easier to read parts of it than to wrestle with its many possible meanings. But that's another tirade.

Mr. Ellison is a former Roman Catholic who has converted to Islam. He is the first Muslim to serve in Congress and when he takes his oath he wants to do so with his holy book in hand rather than a book that does not represent his faith.

Either people have integrity or they don't. Either they are honest or they aren't. Swearing on the bible, the Qu'ran, the Betty Crocker Cookbook or or the National Enquirer won't make a person be more honest or sincere than he or she would otherwise be. I'm all for having people promise to do their best and to uphold the principles of democracy, but such principles include religious freedom. Religious freedom means that you don't have to swear on anyone's bible, and similarly, that you if you choose to swear on a sacred text that it can be the text that is truly sacred to you.

I know there is some apprehension about Islamic fundamentalists in this country. But thr problem with Muslim fundamentalism isn't the Muslim part - its the fundamentalism part!

Islamic fundamentalism scares me, as does Christian fundamentalism, Hindu fundamentalism, or any other religious view that says there is only one way and the people in power get to choose what that way is and they get to enforce that way through legistlative and/or militaristic means.

Theocracy is a bad idea and it doesn't lend itself to democracy. If freedom is what we really stand for, let the Muslim swear on his book, the Jew on hers, the Christian on his, the Sikh on hers, and let the Humanist stand on his own integrity. This is supposed to be the land of the free, not the land of the Right Wing Religious fanatic. Of course, by keeping religion out of government, this whole controversy could be avoided, but I guess we aren't ready to go there yet. So, until we are, just swear on the magic book of your choice.

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