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According to one report there is no codified requirement that officials be sworn in on the Bible - it is just a symbolic ritual. In fact they use a replica of a Bible in the ceremony.

Stupidity spews ever more from the Lords of Loud.

Posted by Orson | December 5, 2006 2:39 PM

I feel so sorry for that guy. First, he has to essentially prove he's not a terrorist on CNN (and he handled that way too gracefully) and, now, this shit.

Posted by keshmeshi | December 5, 2006 3:27 PM

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Using the bible is a symbolic reverence to the principles on which this nation was founded. Though it's not a requirement, it's a respect for tradition that makes our nation a great one. Ellison should use the bible out of respect and tradition for the nation in which he lives in and it's sad that he's not willing to show that small amount of respect.

Posted by Proud Gay Republican | December 5, 2006 3:31 PM

Proud Gay Republican, if your name wasn't enough of a clue, your sycophantic statements are proof what an idiot you are.
Freedom of religion is one of the tenets this country was built on.
As if America didn't have enough enemies in the world idiotic statements by Republicans are being broadcast worldwide as if their view represented more than the corporations that own their asses and the duped idiots that vote for them.
When the Republican sex police come for you Proud Gay Republican, you will have gotten what you deserve for foisting this shit on all of us.

Posted by K X One | December 5, 2006 3:48 PM

Here, here.

Posted by Rielle | December 5, 2006 3:50 PM


Tradition be damned! "It is", as Chesterson said, "the democracy of the dead".

I wouldn't expect an openly Atheist member of Congress to take the Oath of Office with their hand on a Bible (although it does beg the question - what WOULD they feel comfortable taking the Oath on - Darwin? Nietze? The Periodic Table? Maybe someday we'll actually find out), nor a practicing Buddhist, nor a Hindu, nor a Zoroastrian. Asking them to do so would be tantimount to asking them to be hypocrites - not exactly the sort of behavior one would want to encourage in an elected official.

If we want to people to truly respect the principles upon which this nation was founded on, insisting on having them pledge their honor over the cover of a book of fairy tales and mistranslated mythology seems a pretty piss-poor way of going about it, IMHO.

Posted by COMTE | December 5, 2006 3:56 PM

There's no requirement they hold ANY book, as Orson stated. They're simply sworn in, which requires raising the right hand. What they hold in their left hand is not codified. I'd really doubt every Jewish congressman ever elected in this country held a New Testament, not an Old Testament.

Now, I'm no fan of Islam, but Dennis Prager- what an asshole.

Posted by him | December 5, 2006 4:08 PM

The individual philosophy or religion of the oath taker is NOT important here. I’m simply talking about tradition and the cohesive affects such traditions have on our society. It’s simply being respectful of our heritage. Either you respect it or not. Swearing on the Bible if you’re not a Christian does not make you a hypocrite.

Posted by Proud Gay Repubican | December 5, 2006 4:11 PM

They should be required to swear on a copy of the Constitution.

Posted by elswinger | December 5, 2006 4:35 PM

Hm, complicitly pretending that your ability to govern justly is predicated on your willingness to swear an oath of fealty on the face of a book, the contents of which you may not believe -

Yep, it's a duck.

Posted by COMTE | December 5, 2006 4:40 PM


According to one report there is no codified requirement that officials be sworn in on the Bible
A little loophole that allowed ashcroft to use a stack of three of them instead of just one.

Posted by charles | December 5, 2006 4:49 PM

I'd say swear em in on a copy of the Marquis De Sade's 120 Days of Sodom, myself.

Posted by Mr. X | December 5, 2006 5:39 PM

I dunno, I think a copy of The Pentagon Papers, The Watergate Tapes or the Starr Commission Report, or the 9/11 Commission Report would be more appropriate - just to sort of, you know, remind them of a few things while they're taking that oath.

Posted by COMTE | December 5, 2006 5:52 PM

Thanks to religious freedom, pgr, the bible isn't necessarily a "tradition" for every American, whether you think it's a great one or not.

Posted by djfits | December 5, 2006 5:54 PM

I’m simply talking about tradition and the cohesive affects such traditions have on our society. It’s simply being respectful of our heritage. Either you respect it or not.

We had a pretty strong tradition of genocide and slavery at one point. We probably should bring those back, too.

Posted by Paulus | December 5, 2006 5:59 PM

the bible is a symbolic reverence to the principles on which this nation was founded

Some of our founding fathers' thoughts on this subject:

“The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine.” – George Washington

“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” – Thomas Jefferson

“I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.” – Thomas Paine

“I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.” – Thomas Jefferson

“The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.” – Abraham Lincoln

Posted by Zappa | December 5, 2006 6:16 PM

The schmancy swearing in on a book ceremony is B.S. for the TV cameras. It isn't real. I'd like to see my congressman keep his hand in his pocket.

Posted by Fnarf | December 5, 2006 7:00 PM

I'm an observant Jew, but I still wouldn't swear on the Bible. It's my firm belief that our government should be fully secularized. I'd take G-d off our money, fire the chaplains, and prohibit money going to parochial schools. It's the only way to ensure that we don't end up with wackos like Falwell getting government cash and to ensure that we don't get wackos like Bush investigating churches.

Posted by Gitai | December 5, 2006 7:24 PM

PGC, where do you get the idea that the principles that the US was founded on are based in Christianity? As many of the commenters have pointed out, many (most?) of the founding fathers were not Christian. The US legal system clearly was not based on the Ten Commandments. So enlighten us. What support do you have for this statement?

Also, from what I've read, Ellison has never said that he plans to take the oath on the Koran. Apparently Prager pulled that one from the same place PGC pulls his/her ideas from.

Posted by sleestak | December 5, 2006 7:33 PM

That's PGR, Sleestak. You all are missing my point completely; although I admit I could have been clearer. I simply like holding on to a tradition simply because it is a tradition. Period. I'm not debating philosophy, religion, or founding fathers sentiments. Maybe this will make sense: tradition is good because it makes things quaint, formal, and predictable. When FDR died, the staff had to run around the White House to find a Bible to swear in Truman. It's a cute story. If we loose that tradition, it will longer to explain that anecdote.

Posted by Proud Gay Republican | December 5, 2006 9:24 PM

Sure, tradition is cute. So are kittens. I say they should be sworn in while petting an adorable purring kitten.

Back in the real world, personal beliefs trump the fact that a certain book has been used in most swearings-in. Requiring someone to swear an oath on a holy book of a religion other than her own is offensive to my understanding of American values, the same way a bunch of people have already said.

Realistically, I was going to say the same thing as the Spanglish spouse-swapper above: this atheist would choose to use a copy of the Constitution. Preferably a copy that included the Declaration of Independence as well.

Posted by Noink | December 5, 2006 11:06 PM

And "God" and "Creator" are both mentioned in the Declation of Independence. Gee, there's no getting away from it is there?

I love your kittens idea though!

Posted by Proud Gay Republican | December 6, 2006 12:01 AM

And yet, no mention of Jesus.

Posted by keshmeshi | December 6, 2006 10:27 AM

Um, hate to break up anyone's fantasy of a Christian nation and all that, but the Constitution of the United States of America - you know, the law of the land and all that - specifically FORBIDS any religious test for taking public office.

Article VI, Section 3:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Posted by Geni | December 6, 2006 1:50 PM

Hasn't at least one rep used the Book of Mormon, instead? If we'll allow that, I don't see why we can't allow a Koran.

Posted by Orv | December 6, 2006 11:14 PM

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