Democrat Keith Ellison will soon be sworn in as the first Muslim United States Congressman. In his private swearing-in ceremony he has chosen to put his hand on a Koran and not on a Bible.
There seems to actually be an uproar about this, though I think there should not be. This is America, we have religious freedom. The swearing-in symbolism is not fixed in stone and really means that you are putting your name upon all that is holy to you that you will perform your duties including upholding our Constitution.
I think atheists should likewise be free to swear in with a symbolic gesture of their choosing. Personally I would not take offense to swearing on a Bible because I am sure it would send the right message to my constituents, plus it is an old document that represents moral ideals, even if its actual messages are antiquated.
Of course one should have the right to forego religious exercizes if he or she sees fit.
I bet Stephen Colbert would swear in on a literal stack of Bibles just so he could claim later that he had sworn in on a stack of Bibles for comic exaggeration that was ironically true.
If the congressman elect, Mr. Ellison, wants to symbolize his swearing in using his own religious preference then God Bless American religious freedom.
We can be grateful to the wisdom and values of those, many christians among them, who founded our country. Yet, this is not a Christian nation by legal definition, only by the faith choices of many of its citizens.
Why not mention Flag burning here as well.
Americans ought to be able to burn their own flag in protest. This seemed to happen at least once in the 60's protest era. I am sure it was driven by psychadelic drugs right?
I find burning the flag to be offensive. It is a symbol of our nation, our beautiful banner imbued with meaning, sacrifice, history and honor. Although, if you aren't committing arson, breaking fire codes or burning someone else's property, I think flag burning should never be outlawed. That would be contrary to the spirit and nature of our country.
I probably wouldn't even burn a foreign flag, though I think America is a free country and should not repressively ban speech even if it offends me (and perhaps many others).
And finally, you know, I just might swear in on a Carl Sagan book. I mean when I am inevitably up for swearing in as a congressman.