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In an effort to end the Bible’s monopoly on the swearing-in procedure in the courtroom, the American Civil Liberties Union is now suing the state of North Carolina.
A lawsuit has been filed in Superior Court in Wake County, N.C., on behalf of the organization’s statewide membership of approximately 8,000 individuals of many different faiths, including Islam and Judaism.
“The government cannot favor one set of religious values over another and must allow all individuals of faith to be sworn in on the holy text that is in accordance with their faith,” said Jennifer Rudinger, Executive Director of the ACLU-NC. “By allowing only the Christian Bible to be used in the administration of religious oaths in the courtroom, the state is discriminating against people of non-Christian faiths.”
Current law mentions laying one’s hand on the “Holy Scriptures,” which officials heretofore have interpreted as meaning the Bible.
The ACLU seeks a court order clarifying that the existing rule is broad enough to allow the use of multiple religious texts.
“In the alternative, if the Court does not agree that the phrase ‘Holy Scriptures’ in North Carolina state statute must be read to permit texts such as the Quran, the Old Testament and the Bhagavad-Gita in addition to the Christian Bible, then the ACLU-NC asks the Court to strike down the practice of allowing the use of any religious texts in the administration of religious oaths,” said a written statement from the civil-liberties group.
The swearing-in issue began last month after Muslims from the Al-Ummil Ummat Islamic Center in Greensboro sought to donate copies of the Quran to courtrooms in Guilford County.
The gift was rejected by the county’s top two judges, noting an oath based on the Quran was not legally binding.