Saturday, January 06, 2007
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Monday, January 01, 2007
The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity. [James Madison, Letter to F.L. Schaeffer, Dec 3, 1821]Much hay has been made of the election, and pending swearing in, of Keith Ellison as the first Muslim elected to Congress. Among the more curious (and exceptionally ignorant) reactions to Mr. Ellison's election and his request to use the Koran instead of a standard issue Christian bible at his unofficial (the photo-op) swearing in have been Representative Virgil Good's (R-VA) assertion that the election of a Muslim to Congress is the result of unbridled immigration and, presumably, procreation of brown people (don't worry, Mr. Good will have them all deported, even if they are natural born citizens of the US) and that of the Repubevangelicals' pet Yid, Dennis Prager. He who appears to be Kosher in all but spirit even asserted that this country is only interested in upholding the values of the Bible, though he neglects to say which edition of that book holds the key to American Values [emphasis mine]:
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.In fact, the oath/affirmation required of government officials is to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the last I heard, the constitution was not codified in the Bible and the Bible was listed as some sort of reference to the Consitution.
This right-wing farcical debate has been taken up over the weeks since the election by writers better than I, but today's Inky includes a commentary by Sam Fleischaker that shows the framers of the Constitution actually welcomed the idea of religious pluralism, including the rights of those who are not Protestant to serve in the country's highest offices:
If you work on the assumption that those who drafted a document are likely to have the best understanding of what the intent (and literal meaning) of that document is, you must accept not only that was pluralism considered a key to this country's success but that religion/specific religiously based beliefs must not be a factor in making laws or who would be allowed to represent the interests of American citizens. One need to look back a mere 40-some odd years to the momentous election of JFK to recall concerns related to putting personal religious faith before governance and the needs of the country to be reminded that the sword that's used to try to force this country into a Christotheocracy is not only double-edged but serrated as well.
Some early opponents of the Constitution attacked it for Article VI, which prohibits religious tests for national office, precisely on the ground that it made room for Muslims to become lawmakers. Defenders of the Constitution, however, argued that this was a good thing, not something to be feared.
The issue came up most directly in the North Carolina ratifying convention of 1788. One speaker asked whether the absence of religious tests might allow "Pagans, Deists, and Mahometans [to] come among us." To which James Iredell, a fervent supporter of the Constitution and later a Supreme Court justice, replied: "How is it possible to exclude any set of men" from office, "without taking away that principle of religious freedom which we ourselves so warmly contend for?"
Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects? [James Madison]Sphere: Related Content