Saturday, December 23, 2006

Quran Oath Controversy

I was alerted to the Quran Oath Controversy after tuning in to the BBC. For those without the time or the patience to read through wikipedia article, allow me to give a short summary. A muslim, Keith Ellison, was recently elected to the US Congress. However, he decided to take his oath of office upon the Quran rather than the Holy Bible. This act drew criticism from certain personalities, first Dennis Prager, and more recently Representative Virgil Goode. Both believe that the Holy Bible should be used for all swearing in ceremonies.

Speaking as an outsider to American society, I find this act of criticism somewhat xenophobic and irrational. In particular, I would seriously question swearing all officeholders, regardless of religion, on the Holy Bible.

Consider this. The oath of office acts as a pledge of loyality to the nation. Now, what is the role of the holy book (any holy book) in this act? Quite simply, the book acts as a symbol, and as a guarantee, of the stregth of the pledge. When people swear upon their holy book, they are also making a vow upon their particular religion.

Now, ask yourself this. What would you make of a pledge made upon a telephone book? Or one made upon a roll of toilet paper? One would be quick to dismiss such pledges, because (barring exceptional circumstances) neither a telephone book nor a roll of toilet paper would hold much significance to the pledger. Similarly, a pledge made upon a holy book which you do not suscribe to bears little weight. Considering this, I find it absurd that some americans would want the Holy Bible to be made as the only item to be used during swearing in ceremonies. It is as if they desire for empty pledges to be made. I would much rather prefer for my representative (if I could elect one, but that is besides the point) to make a truthful pldege which would neither against his beliefs nor be vacuously empty.

For more information on this controversy, you might want to visit the wikipedia entry or this article, which discusses the latest turn in events.

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