Attacks on Muslim Congressman-Elect’s Faith Undermine Religious Freedom

When congressman-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, said that he would take the oath of office using a Koran, far right ideologues were quick to attack him. Right wing activist Dennis Prager said that Congressmen should only be allowed to use only the Bible in taking the oath of office, and the American Family Association demanded that legislation be passed to require all Congressmen to swear an oath on the Bible, regardless of their religion.

People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas issued the following statement:

“It appears that some on the Religious Right need to review the Constitution, which expressly prohibits a religious test for public office. Every congressman has a right to swear or affirm the oath of office according to his own personal faith. It would violate our constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion to require an official to swear on a Bible against that official's own religious belief.

“At a time when Religious Right leaders are falsely trying to turn "happy holidays" into an attack on Christianity, Prager has given us a real example of religious intolerance."

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