Minnesota Democratic Rep.-elect Keith Ellison (aka Keith Hakim or Keith Ellison Muhammad) is the first Muslim elected to Congress. His promise to take the oath of office on January 4 with his hand on the Koran rather than the Bible has sparked much controversy.
Congressmen and other officials are required to take an oath of office as a prerequisite to being seated. Similarly, witnesses in court are required to take an oath before testifying. The purpose of the oath is to encourage people to tell the truth. By swearing under oath, one obligates himself to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We, as a nation, take the actions of our elected officials and statements made in court very seriously. Therefore, our oaths are made under penalty of perjury. The legal ramification of knowingly making false statements is the possibility of being criminally prosecuted and jailed. Historically, the oath invoked God based on the idea that those who were religious would be less likely to lie if they feared the wrath of God, in addition to the wrath of the state. It was an additional way through which our legal system emphasized the importance of truth-telling.
While nothing in the Constitution or our state laws mandate a person to swear on the Christian Bible, the legal alternative is to “affirm.” This is a promise to tell the truth under pain of perjury, available to those who either do not believe in the Christian God, the Christian Bible, or whose interpretation of the Bible forbids them to swear.
Though some have sworn in on the Old Testament or on different versions of the Christian Bible, all these texts were part of, or variations on the Christian Bible, included the Ten Commandments, and endorsed the same moral value of truth telling.
The Christian Bible teaches that “The Truth shall make you free,” “render unto Cesar what is Cesar’s and unto God what is God’s” (separation of church and state), and preaches freedom and equality for people of all faiths. The Koran, by contrast, teaches that it’s OK to lie to infidels if it furthers the cause of Islam, that nation states have no legitimacy, that the only legitimate nation is the nation of Islam, which has no territorial boundaries; and those who do not submit to the will of Allah should be condemned to a life of dhimmitude (second class citizenry). Because the Koran does not mandate truth telling to infidels and because upholding a man-made constitution conflicts with the literal text of Koranic law, the purpose of the oath is not served by swearing in on the Koran.
An individual cannot subjectively select which text constitutes a “Holy Scripture” appropriate for legal oath-taking. Instead, to determine the intent of the framers who wrote the oath requirement in the Constitution, we must look at the meaning their words held at the time they were written. (Click here for text of oath as mandated by statute.) It is clear that the Founding Fathers intended the oath to be made on the Bible, which espoused the value of truth-telling and in which one of God’s Ten Commandments was “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” They did not contemplate oath-taking on the Koran.
Were we to allow Ellison to swear on a text that states his oath does not have to be truthful because he is making it to infidels, or that his allegiance is to a Higher Authority than the Constitution and he does not have to respect our nation’s laws to the degree they conflict with Sharia or the Koran, then his oath would not be equivalent to an oath taken on the Bible. To swear on a book that is in direct conflict with the purpose of our oath, renders the oath meaningless. The object of the oath matters.
However, there is no religious test for elected office, and nobody is trying to force Ellison to swear on the Christian Bible. He can make his affirmation under penalty of perjury, promising to tell the truth and uphold our man-made laws. This would not preclude him from practicing the religion of his choice.
From a legal standpoint, Ellison’s promise to swear in on the Koran is much ado about nothing, as he is doing no such thing. The official swearing-in ceremony will take place in the House chamber, where the speaker of the House will administer the oath to all House members en masse and no religious texts will be utilized. The subsequent private swearing-in ceremony is nothing more than a photo op and has no legally binding significance. It is at these individual ceremonies that congressmen traditionally pose with the Bible. (In some official positions, the actual Bible is used in the administration of the oath.) Nevertheless, Ellison’s insistence on using the Koran in his is individual ceremony is unprecedented. He is making a political statement that raises questions about his loyalties and values. Does he believe in Sharia law or freedom? Does he respect the authority of nation states or only that of the Nation of Islam? Does he believe in tolerance and equality between Muslims and non-Muslims? Does he believe in freedom of speech even when it slanders Islam? Can he, in good conscience, uphold our man-made constitution even when it conflicts with the Koran?
In answering these questions, Ellison’s background does not allay any concerns. A black convert to Islam, Ellison was active with Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, has a history of supporting anti-Semites, cold-blooded cop-killers (Mumia Abu Jamal) and other questionable characters.
Even more frightening, Ellison’s campaign was substantially financed by prominent members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization many experts consider to be a Hamas front group. (See “The Real CAIR” by Joseph Farah on WorldNetDaily; “CAIR’s Pro-Hamas Press” by Joe Kaufman on FrontPageMag.com; and “CAIR: Islamists Fooling the Establishment” by Sharon Chada and Daniel Pipes, published by Middle East Quarterly.) He recently spoke at the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America, touted by counter-terrorism expert Steve Emerson as terrorist front groups. He also spoke at the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and his lecture flowed into a session at the American Open University, a radical Wahabbi school that trains many of the NAIF Imams.
Reinforcing his pro-Islamist stance, was Ellison’s celebration speech in Dearborn, Mich.—the hotbed of Hezbollah supporters. He promised allegiance to Allah before a crowd cheering, “Allahu Akbar!” (Allah is great!)—the final words of the 9/11 hijackers before crashing into the Twin Towers.
CAIR’s charge that any criticism of Ellison stems from “Islamophobia” is bogus. Had Ellison’s past demonstrated a condemnation of terrorists, and exhibited moderation, inclusiveness, and tolerance, perhaps we could have entertained this criticism with some degree of credibility. However, Ellison’s extremist history makes CAIR’s allegation laughable.
At a time when we are engaged in a global war with radical Islam, it is alarming that citizens of the U.S. have elected someone who appears to be in bed with our enemy. To date, Keith Ellison’s alliances have been far from mainstream. But our real war is ideological. We will not achieve victory by appeasing Islamists and ignoring their goals of world domination in the name of political correctness. Freedom, including religious freedom for people of all faiths, is our greatest asset. But when an interpretation of one’s private faith crosses the line into a political ideology that conflicts with the freedoms and tolerance of others, we must take heed.
Ellison’s insistence on using the Koran at his private ceremony must be seen in the context of the incremental Islamatization of America. Some Muslim extremist groups, posing as mainstream, advocate actions to desensitize citizens to their anti-freedom goals and try to silence those who oppose them. Ellison’s swearing-in ceremony is just the beginning. Follow his money, his faith, and the company he keeps. I suspect his votes on the House floor will reflect more of the same—an allegiance to values contrary to the Judeo-Christian Bible, contrary to the goals of freedom and tolerance, and sympathetic to political agenda of CAIR.