Keith Ellison and the oath on the Quran.
Politics: Here is the gist of the story.
|The Minnesota Democrat says that the Constitution gives him the right to use the Muslim holy book, and that is what he intends to do on Jan. 4. "Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath," radio talk show host and author Dennis Prager wrote in his online column this week. He said that American Jews routinely have taken their oath on the Bible, even though they don't believe in the New Testament, and that if Ellison refuses to do so, "don't serve in Congress." But Eugene Volokh, a professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the Constitution authorizes people not to swear their oath at all, protecting atheists and agnostics. "Why would Muslims and others not be equally protected?" he wrote for National Review Online. Ellison, who told the Star Tribune shortly after his election victory that he planned to use the Qur'an, was attending meetings in Washington on Thursday and could not be reached for comment, according to Dave Colling, his spokesman. But Ellison defended his plan to use the Qur'an, Islam's holiest book, in an interview with Abdi Aynte, a reporter from Minneapolis who writes for the Minnesota Monitor, an independently produced political news blog. "The Constitution guarantees for everyone to take the oath of office on whichever book they prefer," Ellison was quoted as saying. "And that's what the freedom of religion is all about." Ellison's decision drew support from one prominent conservative firebrand, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, who champions a fence along the border with Mexico and who says that unfettered immigration endangers American culture. "He wants to take his oath on the Qur'an, that's fine," Tancredo said. "I think whatever you believe is necessary for you to uphold your obligations to the Constitution, that is fine with me."|