First Muslim Congressman has Right to Take Oath on Quran

December 5, 2006

Author: Dean Koldenhoven

Source: Daily Southtown,051guc1.article

The news that Minnesota congressman-elect Keith Ellison says he does not want to put his hand on the Bible while taking the oath of office really is a nonissue.

Unless the formality of the swearing-in changes, the official swearing-in for the House of Representatives is done in the House chambers by the speaker of the House en masse. The Bible is not ordered to be used in this ceremony. If any congressman wants to put his hand on a Bible or Quran or whatever book during this ceremony, he or she is free to do so.

The so-called "conservative" radio talk-show host Dennis Prager made quite an issue of the fact that Keith Ellison wants to use the Quran instead of the Bible for his swearing-in.

Prager has been stirring the conservative crowd into sending out messages to other elected officials to not let Ellison use the Quran instead of the Bible for the swearing-in ceremony. Mr. Prager should read the Constitution before sending out his biased material. The constitution says nothing about inaugural ceremonies, other than the words of the oath itself for the respective office.

What the First Amendment spells out is the "establishment" clause. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..."