Friday, January 05, 2007

Excellent Wikipedia Article on Use of Koran During House Swearing-In

There's a fantastically comprehensive series of Wikipedia articles on the recent controversy(ies) surrounding Congressman Keith Ellison taking his ceremonial oath (i.e., photo-op) on the Koran, Congressman Virgil Goode's letter to his constituents about why we need more immigration restrictions to avoid this happening in the future (even though Ellison was born and raised in the U.S. of A.), and commentator Dennis Prager's strong opinions on the matter.

My whole take on this? Virgil Goode is an asshole. (And I resent him all the more, because the other day at lunch we were watching the voting in of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, and I told my lunchmates that as of that moment my blogposts would shift from being pejorative towards G.O.P. congressmen to being pejorative to the bleeding-heart pinkos on the other side of the aisle. But, I just couldn't help myself...)

See, if I have an issue with any of this, it's that they use religious symbols at all. Give them all a framed copy of the Constitution to use for their swearing in, and then make them memorize it so that they don't try and pass a bunch of nonsense into law. Prager and others have said that using the Bible is important because of its symbolism in the context of the Judeo-Christian tradition in America. (This nugget of social conservatism seems like it should be tremendously insulting to those who place their faith in biblical teachings, especially considering that the New Testament itself prohibits oath-taking. Another way of stating this position of certain social conservatives is to say that the unique divinity of Jesus Christ is not the most important aspect of the Bible, but the fact that holding it shows you are on the same ball team as the rest of America is.)

However, assuming the religious texts are still going to be used, let 'em use what they want. Prager asked if a white supremicist got elected, would we permit him to use Mein Kampf as a book on which to take an oath. Answer: YES! If somebody ends up getting elected who thinks Mein Kampf is appropriate for such a ceremony, don't we want to know that that person thinks that way?

But in any event, the xenophobic conformism Prager and Goode displayed really pisses me off.

Ellison used the Koran once owned by Goode's fellow Virginian, Thomas Jefferson. (Jeffersonian quotes on freedom of religion here.) I think it'd be fucking hysterical if two years from now, Goode got re-elected and decided to show off by using Jefferson's Bible.

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