At Swearing in, Congressman Wants to Carry Koran

December 7, 2006

Author: Jane Lampman

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Keith Ellison hasn't even started his new job, and he's already under fire.

When America's first Muslim congressman, a Democrat from Minnesota, let it be known he will carry a Koran to his swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 4, conservative pundit Dennis Prager called it "an act of hubris ... that undermines American civilization."

In a web column, the talk-show host said, "Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress."

The column has sparked a brouhaha on talk radio, in the blogosphere, and in newspapers across the country. The congressman's office has been inundated with angry e-mails.

The US Constitution says nothing about swearing on the Bible. But some commentators insist the US is a Christian nation, and the proposed act goes against its values and tradition. To others, the uproar shows an ignorance of the Constitution and the principle of religious freedom. Some people worry that it reflects growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.