By demanding that Keith Ellison not swear his oath on the Koran, some Americans confuse jingoism with Christianity
Keith Ellison (D-MN) is America's first Muslim congressperson. Being a Muslim, he wishes to swear his oath of office with his hand upon the Koran. America stands for freedom of religion, among many other freedoms, so his wish appears perfectly reasonable to me ... if being Muslim were a problem for Minnesotans, they would not have elected him.
Dennis Prager, writing for the American Family Association, insists that:
"He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization."
"America, not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on."
"Devotees of multiculturalism and political correctness who do not see how damaging to the fabric of American civilization it is to allow Ellison to choose his own book need only imagine a racist elected to Congress. Would they allow him to choose Hitler's "Mein Kampf," the Nazis' bible, for his oath?"
"But these naive people do not appreciate that America will not change the attitude of a single American-hating Muslim by allowing Ellison to substitute the Koran for the Bible. In fact, the opposite is more likely: Ellison's doing so will embolden Islamic extremists and make new ones, as Islamists, rightly or wrongly, see the first sign of the realization of their greatest goal -- the Islamicization of America."
Some posters on Titus One-Nine, a conservative Anglican blog, espouse similiar sentiments.
RAMcClain: "Let him resign if he refuses to swear on the Bible. I don’t believe we should give in to him, or anyone else who chooses otherwise."
Dee in Iowa: "The voting on AOL’s question as regards this is 2 to 1 in favor of him having to use the Bible. FYI I voted with the minority…."
MK: "1. because it represents Muslim expansionism into the accepted ways of the United States, which are Christian in foundation."
"He was raised a Roman Catholic and attended a Jesuit high school, then apostasized to Islam when he was 19. What did he learn at school?"
Christopher Hathaway: "Maybe it’s time we challenged the idea of a secular State indifferent to the religion which gave it life. The Koran knows no such thing as true religious freedom. I say keep that damned book as far from our government as possible."
"I think I have made clear my loathing of Islam as a vile and dangerous religion. It is not friendly to Western civilization."
"This country is a country based upon the freedom given to us by God, the God of the Bible, not the god of the Koran."
There's no easy way to say this, but the church in Nazi Germany (both Catholic and Protestant) confused jingoism with Christianity, and for the most part failed to condemn Hitler. For us to conflate Christianity and jingoism in America is to tread down the same path.
Prager's comments on "multiculturalism" are quite disturbing. Many White Americans seem to be afraid that their country is being overrun by people of color - Arizona, for example, declared English as the official language of the state. Prager is Jewish, and that makes it a lot more interesting. He forgets that Jews were once subject to discrimination and persecution in the US. If some political figure were to make a similar statement when anti-Semitism was still acceptable, it would invite, or at least legitimate, attacks on Jews.
Prager also comments that Jewish legislators in America have always sworn on the Bible. Indeed, Sens Coleman and Wellstone of Minnesota, both Jewish, swore on Bibles. But, they felt comfortable doing so. This isn't a Christian-only state. The oath is to the Constitution, not to the Bible. If Ellison can only honestly swear his oath on the Koran, then he absolutely should do so.
And, to bring us to face our racism, I should ask: if we elected a Jewish senator who insisted on swearing on the Torah, would the response be quite this vitriolic?
Titus One-Nine page:
Prager's piece at American Family Association:
Addendum: Titus 1:9 is maintained by Canon Kendall Harmon of, I believe, South Carolina. The articles he posts are usually very good and give a good view of the conservative side of the Episcopal Church. A lot of liberals and moderates frequent his blog as well, but some of the more virulent conservatives post things that are not so good.