Freedom of religion. Do we really get that in America - the land of the free? How about religious tolerance?
How about this phrase:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…~US Constitution - Amendment 1
I’m not entirely sure that Congressman Keith Ellison from Minnesota is feeling the love from a religious tolerant America, especially when he let it be known that he would be carrying a copy of the Koran to his swearing in ceremony.
He caught a LOT of flack:
…conservative pundit Dennis Prager called it “an act of hubris … that undermines American civilization.”
Undermines? Allowing a citizen of this country to practice his chosen religious beliefs is undermining American civilization? Because he is Muslim? Muslims don’t follow the bible. They follow the Koran. Where is the problem here?
Further, Prager stated this on his radio talk show:
“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.”
Take a look at the religions that follow the Bible. Is Prager suggesting that only those that practice religion taught from the Bible are the only people suited to serve in the US Government? Does this not smack of an establishment of religion? “..America is interested in only one book, The Bible…” Prager says.
I beg to differ. America is a melting pot of cultures and religions - to infer that the Bible is the ONLY book that America is interested in is ludicrous, and goes against exactly what this country stands for - - freedom. Is Prager anti-freedom?
I know if I were elected into public office - there would be no bible at my swearing in ceremony. There would be no Koran, either. There would be no piece of religious literature, whatsoever. I’m an atheist. If the American public saw fit to elect me to public office - they would have to deal with the fact that I would practice no religious traditions, period.
The people of Minnesota saw fit to elect a Muslim to office. Along with that comes the tolerance for his religious practices and beliefs. End of story.
Furthermore - in Congress, newly elected representatives are not required to place their hand on ANY book. They raise their right hands and swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. No book required.
Upholding the Constitution means to support it. That means to support freedom of religion. It means upholding the principle of religious freedom for all citizens in this country.
That means allowing a Congressman to carry the Koran, if he so chooses. Period.
Some Presidents choose to be sworn into office by placing their hand on the Bible and uttering, “…so help me god”.. - but that is a matter of choice, not law. President John Quincy Adams took the oath on a law book including the Constitution. President Theodore Roosevelt didn’t use a book.
What this reflects, more than religious intolerance, is the growing anti-Muslim feelings with some citizens in this country today. From the folks that paint all Muslims with the same brush. From the close-minded individuals who cannot view the difference between the fanatical faction of Muslims (i.e. Al Qaeda) to the moderate, peaceful members of the Muslim faith.
Back in the 80’s and early 90’s we had fanatics bomb abortion clinics in the name of god and religion. Did we paint all Christians with the same brush, at the time? Should we? Of course not, silly.
So, why is Prager so afraid of religious tolerance? He voices his fears in his own words:
“I’m afraid we are becoming a diverse, secular society without any roots, and this is symbolically an example of that,” he says. “The Bible is the repository of our values, not the Constitution … and I’m asking him to honor that and include the Bible along with the Koran.“
Why should Ellison honor the Bible? It is a book he holds no belief in, doesn’t follow or teach its practices and isn’t the book of HIS religion.
What I always find very ironic about folks who begin speaking of America’s Christian roots - - I’m afraid if we look back 200 years into this country’s roots - we would find some decidedly un-Christian practices, values and beliefs.
The collective ‘we’ likes to forget those parts of our history when they speak of the values this country was founded on. We conveniently forget the genocide of American Indians, those human beings who were here first, remember? We conveniently forget the enslaving of human beings because of their skin color. We conveniently forget the burning of women at the stake because of intolerance and fear. Our country was founded on a lot of things - I don’t believe Christianity was it.
Let’s learn from our history, also let’s not sugarcoat our history or revise it to suit the picture of America we want to paint, rather than the picture of America that really is - for without understanding our history, we cannot understand today and we run the very real risk of repeating our same mistakes.2432