An update on the story: Keith Ellison finally got to meet his hero, Virgil Goode, the Congressman who basically accused Ellison of being an illegal immigrant (even though Ellison’s family has been in America for multiple generations) who should be deported. Here’s an excerpt from Goode’s statement:

The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.

Ellison’s response: “I look forward to meeting him.”

Well, guess what? They got to meet! Goode’s back is to the camera. Ellison is the guy who sneaks up, all smiles, and introduces himself.

Here’s an interesting development in a story we’ve reported on: As many of you know, no holy book is used during the swearing-in ceremony for the United States House of Representatives. However, representatives sometimes carry a sacred book, most often the Bible, and participate in a private, unofficial ceremony afterward.

Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the House, made national news when he said he’d be carrying a Koran. Conservative talk show host Dennis Prager helped to exacerbate the controversy by claiming that Ellison would be using the book in the official ceremony. Not true.

But according to CNN, Ellison will be holding a Koran during the unofficial ceremony, a very special copy of the text that is sacred to over one billion Muslims, a copy that once belonged to Thomas Jefferson.

From the article:

Ellison spokesman Rick Jauert said the new congressman “wants this to be a special day, and using Thomas Jefferson’s Quran makes it even more special.”

“Jefferson’s Quran dates religious tolerance to the founders of our country,” he added.

An English translation of the Arabic, it was published in 1764 in London, a later printing of one originally published in 1734.

“This is considered the text that shaped Europe’s understanding of the Quran,” Dimunation said.

It was acquired in 1815 as part of a 6,400-volume collection that Jefferson sold for $24,000, to replace the congressional library that had been burned by British troops the year before, in the War of 1812.

14 thoughts

  1. As a Christian and an American, I do not have a problem with this man exercising his Constitutional right to freely exercise his religion. I do, however, disagree with the expansionists’ view of separation of church and state, and their prohibiting the Ten Commandments, nativity displays and prayers in public mettings and so forth. However, I cannot see where any freedom loving American would be offended that this man chooses to exercise his Constitutional rights. The fact that this Quran happened to belong to Thomas Jefferson, is merely a media ploy and adds nothing to the support of the Constitution.

  2. “The fact that this Quran happened to belong to Thomas Jefferson, is merely a media ploy and adds nothing to the support of the Constitution.”

    No, it doesn’t add to the support of the Constitution, but it definitely does add to the proof that this is a nation of many religions, no one of which is to be revered over another. Jefferson was a scholar, a thinking man, and a man with trust in allowing religious both freedom and religious tolerance. Jefferson is the best of the best of our founding fathers in many ways. I’m not surprised he had his own personal copy of the Qu’ran. Bravo for him and Bravo for Ellison for coming up with that very copy. Media ploy or not, it is a very powerful symbolic gesture. Very powerful.

  3. If you had bothered to watch Glen Beck on Tuesday night they had a huge debate on this very issue. Anyone who watched CNN now knows the use of a “holy book” is just for photo opts and private ceremonies. In fact, the Constitution forbids the use of any religious book during the swearing in ceremony. I cannot believe intelligent people are still having this discussion! Come on Lamar!

  4. Of course I understand it’s only used for photo ops and private ceremonies. However, it’s still a relevant story. Please go back and read the archives concerning CenLamar’s coverage of this issue.

  5. And I also understand that it’s only used for photo ops and private ceremonies. That’s not the point. The fact that a holy book other than the Christian Bible belonged to one of our Founding Fathers is a very powerful statement about the true roots of this nation.

  6. This is an interesting issue, but I won’t say much as my views on anyting dealing with religion and te government offend most. I am a believer in absolute separation of curch and state. I revere Jefferson as one of the great influences of our early history as he was such a proponent of this.

    We should ensure that our govenment protects religious freedom, but it should in no way be a proponent for any one faith, even if it is the faith of the masses.

    But, I believe government’s job is to build bridges, hospitals, and schools, etc. I find it absolutely disgraceful that so much of our political process is dominated by debate and proposed legislation regarding moral issues.

    Things that are considered immoral by one generation are considered absolutely normal by another. 150 years ago we had laws forbidding the showing of womens’ ankles. Today that seems absurd, as it is.

    Government should have no hand in regulating religion other than to ensure the safety of the public. That’s one of the reasons I think this whole gay marriage debate so insane. Under seperation of church and state, the government shouldn’t even be giving any legal recognition to straight marriages as they are religious rites.

    Anyway, I’m getting off point, but I would like to agree with the earlier post, that complaining that someone would use a non-christian text is unamerican is in itself completely unamerican.

  7. “By maintaining the separation of church and state, the United States has avoided the intolerance which has so divided the rest of the world with religious wars”

    Can anyone guess what liberal, commie, pinko said this?

    Why should we waste time concerning ourselves with a book someone chooses to carry with him during a swearing in ceremony? In fact, why are someone’s religious beliefs of any concern to anyone but that person?

    When John Kennedy ran for office, many [Protestants] feared he would be controlled by the Pope is Rome, that he would make decisions only after consulting with the Holy See. This did not happen. Those fears were unfounded. However, now, these very same God-fearing Protestants, the backbone of America, are electing people who are totally controlled by the religious right, i.e. Pat Robertson, etc. When elected, these politicians pass laws curtailing our civil rights and research programs and are unabashed in defending their decision, not with some ingenious Constitutional argument, but by basing it on religion.

    This should scare Chritians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and antheists alike. Religion should be a something that shapes politicians, not dominates them. It should be part of them, not who they are. I am curious how the United States would regard Iran and other Middle Eastern nations like it if it was dominated not by Muslim clerics but by Southern baptist ministers.

    Sorry Lamar about rambling on — had a little too much to drink last night while watching the game. It’s hard right now to form a cohesive thought.

  8. God-fearing Protestants, the backbone of America…

    You know, this brings up a good point. The largest religious group in America (denomination) is now and has always been Roman Catholics. This was the case in 1776 and it is the case now. Yet, we have as a society, formulated this myth that protestantism and especially Anglophile protestant heritage is the backbone or keystone of American culture.

    The fact is, as sad as it is to admit, that the constitution of the United State was actually written to protect the interests of those in power at the time. It has served the nation well by ensuring the rights of our people, but the original intent was to limit the access and effect of the general populous on government.

    Original laws in the US left determining voting qualifications to the states. The general rules were usually thhat a person had to be white, male, and own property. At the time this worked as a handy tool to make sure that the people in power at the time (White protestants of English descent) would maintain power.

    The key of it came down to property ownership. Poperty was deeded and transfered then, like today via the local courts. In most states the local courts were controlled by the churches. These varied by state from puritans in Mass, friends in Penn, and in most place Anglicans (episcopal). At that time you had to have money to belong to a church (church taxes and such). You had to belong to one of these churches to be heard in court. So…if you were anything but the empowered denomination, you basically had no access to the courts, and this made it very difficult to become a property owner. And, if you could never become a property owner you could never vote and thus you had no access to goverment.

    This country is not a Christian country. It may be a country of christians, and even a country mostly run by christians, but it is one of the few great nations that has as a key tenet of its existence a secular government.

    Let the guy take a picture with his hand on the latest copy of newsweek. It doesn’t matter. Religion, religious affiliation, a particular moral view, none of it has the slightest thing to do with being an American. The freedom to be or not to be anything you want, including any religion (or none at all) is what is American. And to argue otherwise, THAT is what’s unamerican.

  9. Correctamundo Lamar. The pinko, commie, etc. comment was my lame attempt at sarcasm.

    To Cenlacurrent, I agree with you. When referring to Protestants as the backbone of America, I guess I was alluding to the perceived majority. I guess I should have called them the ruling minority.

  10. Like most politicians, the founding fathers spoke out of both sides of their mouths. From their actual historic writings, and from the Federalist Pepers, one see that the primary concern of the Constitutional Convention was to avaoid a government financially supported church, as with the Church of England. Thomas Jefferson, on the otherhand, was more liberal in his views, on most things, that were his contemporaries. There are a multitude of examples of the United States being founded as a Christian nation, as well as some that state the opposite. Use of the phrase “In God We Trust” on our money, and others, are clear examples of religious overtones. The issue is not at all clear, and there are equally intelligent people on both sides of that debate.

  11. Did anyone actually see this on CNN? It was a simple, stupid photo op that lasted about thirty seconds.

    Not even a fake oath of office was administered– just a photographer asking him to move to the left. All of those letters to the editor over THAT.

    I wonder what Ruth Barden is thinking right now.

  12. hmm…the public asking a congressman to move to the left. That sounds familiar…

    Patrick Henry,

    Just a quick note: “In God We Trust” was added in 1956 along with the “under God” section of the Pledge as our national motto. It was a reactionary move meant to differentiate the United States from the USSR which under their form of communism was official atheist. This national motto replaced the previous 180 year old original E. Pluribus Unum (From many, one).

    This legislated validation of christianity is actually a product of 100 years of lobbying by various christian groups to the congress and treasury to include a reference to God on the country’s money. It first appeared on the 2-cent coin during the Civil War, but was then used only on and off until 1957 when it became mandated by congress.

    Teddy Rossevelt was adamantly opposed to the inclusion of this motto on the nations currency. The decision by congress to add this motto was seen at the time as a cheap ploy to play to the rising religious sentiment of the times and to give political clout to criticisms of the USSR and the ‘communist scare’ during political races of the late 50’s.

  13. I’m glad to finally see some accurate reporting on this issue. It has reported for weeks that Ellison would be holding the Koran in a PRIVATE ceremony, and not the official swearing in. Is this the first time this has been reported on this blog? Sorry if I missed it. I don’t think I’ve read every post, but the ones I did read suggested that the use of the Koran was a total fabrication.

    BTW the positions I take on most issues, political and religious, would probably be classified as ultra-conservative by most, but the previous comments about “In God We Trust” being a “cheap ploy” are largely accurate and have more to do with a very watered down Civil Religion (that I sometimes call Americanism or the American Religion) than they do with Christianity. The spirit behind it is one of relativism and latitudinarianism. The quintessiental expression of this idea was articulated around that time (1950’s) by Dwight David Eisenhower when he said

    “America makes no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith–and I don’t care what it is.”

    Such a statement is hardly Christian.

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