Oaths of Office

Newly elected congressman Keith Ellison, being a Muslim rather than a Christian, apparently wants to swear his oath of office on a Koran, rather than a Bible. Dennis Prager is having none of it:

Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison’s favorite book is. 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 your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath.

Seriously this is going to be an issue? What’s more, Prager says “for all of American history, Jews elected to public office have taken their oath on the Bible, even though they do not believe in the New Testament, and the many secular elected officials have not believed in the Old Testament either.” I actually find that pretty hard to believe. Most Jewish members of congress seem pretty casual about their observance, but does Joe Lieberman really swear on a Christian Bible? It seems to me like that would be a very strange thing to do. Eugene Volokh reports that Hawaii’s Jewish governor swore on a Tanakh.

UPDATE: Progress Report says this is all made up:


[T]he swearing-in ceremony for the House of Representatives never includes a religious book. The Office of the House Clerk confirmed to the Progress Report that the swearing-in ceremony consists only of the Members raising their right hands and swearing to uphold the Constitution. The Clerk spokesperson said neither the Christian Bible, nor any other religious text, had ever been used in an official capacity during the ceremony. (Occassionally, Members pose for symbolic photo-ops with their hand on a Bible.) Look at this picture of House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) being sworn in last year by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) with his hand on the rostrum.

Ah conservatism journalism, where lying is standard operating procedure.