Monday, December 04, 2006

A Religious Test

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." - Article VI of the United States Constitution
To many, this story is old news, but a quick recap: Dennis Prager (who is Jewish) is upset that MN Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, plans on using a Koran to be sworn into office. Prager's statements were denounced by... well, pretty much everyone, including the ADL. CAIR now wants him removed from the board of the federally-funded Holocaust Memorial Council (which advises the Holocaust Museum), which he was recently appointed to, for his statement.

Now here's the really weird twist - Prager (who is Jewish, remember?) wants Jews to swear on the Christian Bible, too:

Prager said the ceremonial oath is no less significant than the actual swearing-in.

"Oh, that's the whole point. It's exactly because it's ceremonial that it matters to me," he said. "Ceremonies matter. Ceremonies are exceedingly important. That is the way a society states what is most significant to it."

Prager also said that he would like to see Jews swear their oaths of office on the Christian Bible — the Jewish Bible does not include the New Testament that is central to Christian beliefs.

Well, at least he can claim he's consistent and not biased against Muslims in particular... But this just further shows how stupid his opinion on this really is. What happened to the "no religious test" clause in the Constitution? His statement that everybody has sworn on the Bible seems to be wrong, anyway: In addition to T. Roosevelt, who he mentions, many Congressmen and Senators seem to have merely affirmed or sworn on an Old Testament only (in the case of some Jews).
[Note: According to the article, the actual swearing-in is only done by raising their right hand; the part with the Bible is merely a ceremonious photo-op, not even a real swearing in.]
The only valid question is where we draw the line on what people can swear on: Can a Scientologist swear on Dyanetics, an atheist on... oh, Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion? I think the simple answer to this is - if it becomes a serious issue - that everyone must either affirm or swear on the Constitution of the United States, which is the document they are swearing to uphold and protect.