You guys are all probably well aware of the news that the first Muslim elected to congress, Keith Ellison (D-MN), “has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the Koran.” And that it has raised some ire among my Christian brethren. For instance, at Townhall.com, Dennis Prager has written that:
[I]t is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism — my culture trumps America’s culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.
Now one could argue that what Americans in general hold as their holiest book is not what “America” holds as its holiest book, that America’s culture, being a nation of immigrants, is multiculturalism, that the American government, being a secular institution, a nation of laws, does not, in fact, have a holiest book, and that the first amendment, stating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” pretty much says exactly what Dennis Prager complains that leftists are saying, namely, that what is of most importance is what “any individual holds to be his holiest book,” as well as his right to express that belief (or lack of belief in the case of atheists — yuck). One could even argue that since Keith Ellison does not hold the Bible to be his holiest book, his swearing on it could, to him, be the equivalent of swearing on an equally fictitious Stephen King novel (I recommend The Stand, for obvious reasons — and I hasten to add that he would in fact be wrong, as the Bible is obviously not fictitious), and he might feel no obligation to stand by his oath, but that, since what matters is the oath itself, not the thing that makes the oath important to the individual, his swearing on the Koran, which he views as holy, and which adds importance to the oath to him, makes him more likely to take the oath seriously, which is better for all Americans. And further, one could argue that since “no religious test” may be required of a person before they can hold public office, and requiring one to swear on a specific religion’s holy text would be the definition of a religious test, requiring it would be doubly unconstitutional.
All right, so those are the arguments that could be made in favor of Keith Ellison being allowed to take his oath of office on the Koran rather than the much, much better Bible. I want to say, in case it’s not obvious, that those, however, are not arguments that I’m making. I do not in fact hold to any of those views, much less all of them. Americans have decided by majority vote that we are a de facto Christian nation, because the majority of them are, in fact, Christians. They say they’re Christian, and I’ll take their word at that, because a Christian wouldn’t lie about being a Christian if he wasn’t. And so they expect their congress to have Christian values.
So, sure, it’s unconstitutional to require that Ellison take his oath on the Bible — I’ll agree with that and even agree that’s it’s doubly unconstitutional; I do not deny “reality” — but so far as I can tell, and I think most Americans would agree, that is a flaw of the constitution, not of the Bible.
Which is awesome. After all, the Bible was written by God. The constitution was only written by a bunch of aristocrats with bad teeth.