Last month Keith (Hakim Mohammad) Ellison of Minnesota became the first Muslim elected to serve in the United States Congress and shocked many Americans by declaring that he would take his oath of office by placing his hand on the Quran rather than the Bible. Can a true believer in the Islamic doctrine found in the Quran swear allegiance to our Constitution? Those who profess a sincere belief in Allah say “no!”
In 1789, George Washington, our first president under the Constitution, took his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God.” Placing his hand on the Holy Scriptures, Washington recognized the God who had led our Pilgrim fathers on their journey across the Atlantic in 1620 and who gave our Founding Fathers the impetus to begin a new nation in 1776. Soon after Washington’s oath, Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789, which required all judges of the federal courts to “faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties” incumbent upon them “agreeably to the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.” Placing their hand on the Bible, the members of Congress had already sworn to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States … So help me God.”
Thus began a long tradition that extended both to state and federal government of acknowledging the Judeo-Christian God as the source of our law and liberty. Today, some believe that it does not matter what we believe or before Whom we take our oath. But as Keith Ellison is demonstrating, it does matter.
To support the Constitution of the United States one must uphold an underlying principle of that document, liberty of conscience, which is the right of every person to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience, without interference by the government. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, in his “Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States” in 1833, observed concerning the First Amendment that “The rights of conscience are, indeed, beyond the just reach of any human power. They are given by God and cannot be encroached upon by human authority without a criminal disobedience of the precepts of natural, as well as revealed religion.” Justice Story echoed the sentiments of Thomas Jefferson in his Bill for Religious Freedom in 1777 in which he stated that “Almighty God” (El Shaddai in Hebrew) “hath created the mind free and manifested His supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint.” It was a specific God who endowed us with a freedom of conscience with which government could not interfere.
The Islamic faith rejects our God and believes that the state must mandate the worship of its own god, Allah. Last week, the Associated Press reported that the Islamic Court in Bulo Burto, a small town in southern Somalia, had ordered that residents would be beheaded “according to Islamic law” if they failed to pray five times a day. Sheik Hussein Barre Rage, chairman of the Islamic court, stated, “As Muslims, we should practice Islam fully … and that is what our religion enjoins us to do.” In other regions of Somalia, Islamic courts have introduced flogging, public execution and other punishments for those who deny Quranic law or refuse to worship Allah.
Islamic law is simply incompatible with our law. Jaafar Sheikh Idris, founder and chairman of American Open University, a radical Islamic school that has received funding from suspected al-Qaida sources and which supports Islamic law, recently stated that “Islam cannot be separated from the state,” and that no Muslim elected to Congress or the White House can swear to uphold the United States Constitution and still be a Muslim, because the law of Allah as expressed in the Quran is supreme. Idris was recently deported for his illegal activities. While we certainly disagree with Idris’ radical extremism, he at least knows what Islam is all about!
According to a Dec. 6, 2006, WorldNetDaily article, Keith Ellison’s campaign was not only backed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which shares the views of American Open University, but he also spoke to the North American Islamic Federation in November in Minneapolis with American Open University on the same program. Perhaps Ellison is confused about what he believes, or else he has another agenda. In either event, according to Idris, Ellison cannot swear an oath on the Quran and an allegiance to our Constitution at the same time.
Our Constitution states, “Each House [of Congress] shall be the judge … of the qualifications of its own members.” Enough evidence exists for Congress to question Ellison’s qualifications to be a member of Congress as well as his commitment to the Constitution in view of his apparent determination to embrace the Quran and an Islamic philosophy directly contrary to the principles of the Constitution. But common sense alone dictates that in the midst of a war with Islamic terrorists we should not place someone in a position of great power who shares their doctrine. In 1943, we would never have allowed a member of Congress to take their oath on “Mein Kampf,” or someone in the 1950s to swear allegiance to the “Communist Manifesto.” Congress has the authority and should act to prohibit Ellison from taking the congressional oath today!
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