Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Theocrat wants Bible pledge for all office holders.

Rev. Donald Wildmon is an old fart who runs something called the American Family Association. He is of course a fundamentalist nutter. And “family” as ever is his code word for “we hate anyone not us”.

His most recent ActionAlert to theocrats in America is another one of those fundamentalist attempts to distort the facts to make things sound really, really bad. It is headlined: “A first for America... The Koran replaces the Bible at swearing-in oath.”

For the record when someone is elected to certain offices where they are sworn in there is no law, and never has been, which mandated they use the Bible. In fact most swearing-ins are without any sort of book. It is a purely personal decision whether to use one book or not. If someone wanted they could be sworn in with The Origins of the Species by Darwin -- something I’d like to see only because the fanatics would turn somersaults over the incident.

What upset Wildmon and others on the theocratic Right is that Keith Eillison, a new member of Congress, is a Muslim. He took his oath of office using the Qu’ran. Well Right-wing windbag Dennis Prager had fits. He said that the law must step in and use force to prevent this from happening.

He wrote that Ellison should have been forced to use the Bible “not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.” Wow! These hysterics really know how to get worked up about bullshit. Prager not only wants to violate the Constitution, which forbids any religious oath to hold office, but he wants to ban people from holding office who are not believers in the Bible. He says “Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don’t serve in Congress.”

Get that. If you don’t believe the bullshit in that collection of fairy tales, and you don’t think that some deity is behind this collection and are thus willing to swear an oath up this book he says you shouldn’t be in Congress.

The Library of Congress notes that other than the oath itself and the date of inauguration “nothing else about the event is mandated law” including “the use of a Bible”. When John Quincy Adams was sworn in as president he took the oath on a book of laws and the US Constitution.

Prager is ignorant of his history. He claims that “for all of American history, Jews elected to public office have taken their oath on the Bible, even though they don’t believe in the New Testament.” That is just false. Prager and the conservative web site he writes for, are making it up as they go along.

Rev. Wildmon is just as ignorant, but I suspect you already knew that. He urges his fundie followers to e-mail their Congressman “to pass a law making the Bible he book used in the swearing-in ceremony of Representatives and Senators.” He is doubly ignorant in fact. Congress can’t pass a law on this as the Constitution supersedes on this issue.

The Founding Fathers, who were not theocrats, wrote a Constitution which specified that individuals elected to high office, including Senators and Representatives, are required to take an oath supporting the Constitution and then it immediately says “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” And the oath of the president is spelled out in the Constitution and there no mention of the Bible, God, Christianity or religion.

One of the first Justices of the Supreme Court, Joseph Story authored the first detailed commentary on the US Constitution and he said that the absence of any religious context in the oath of office “cut off for ever every pretence of any alliance between church and state in the national government.

Nor is this even the first time an oath of office in the US was taken on the Qu’ran. The US ambassador to Fiji, in 1999 used the Qu’ran when he was sworn in.

As for Prager’s claim that all Jews take their oath of office on the Bible the Jewish Anti-Defamantion League says that is pure rubbish. “No Member of Congress is officially sworn in with a Bible. Under House rules, the official swearing-in ceremony is done in the House chamber, with the Speaker of the House, administering the oath of office en masse. No Bibles or other holy books are used at all. Members may, if they choose, also have a private ceremony with family and friends. At these unofficial ceremonies, Members frequently solemnize the event by taking an oath while hold a personal family Bible.” In other words in an unofficial ceremony some Members may use the Bible but in the official ceremony none do. Why? Well, it’s that damn Constitution. Hey, George says don’t worry. Remember he said “It’s just a God damned piece of paper” anyway.

And in a similar vein I just got a copy of a speech given at Hillsdale College. Now Hillsdale pushes itself as a Christian college though not like most Christian institutions. It plays itself up more as a conservative college.

This is the pro-family, conservative, Christian college where its president and leading spokesman had an affair with his daughter-in-law, left his wife and moved in with his son and his wife (the one he was having the affair with) then went off and married another woman. That left the daughter-in-law despondent since she was sure he would marry her. She took a pistol and committed suicide on the campus. (Really, I don’t make this stuff up.)

This lecture, sent out free to tens of thousands of would-be donors, was about the “Dangers of the ‘Wall of Separation’ Between Church and State”. See if you don’t have theocratic government it is “dangerous”.

It was Thomas Jefferson who coined the phrase a “wall of separation” in regards to religion and government. He wrote in a 1802 letter that the First Amendment built “a wall of separation between Church & State.”

But as we have seen Justice Story, appointed by President James Madison, said something similar when he said the constitution “cut off for ever every pretence of any alliance between church and state in the national government.” Separation of church and state was not invented by “godless liberals” in the 1960s.

Today the theocratic Right is trying to promote revisionist history where this idea of separation of church and state doesn’t exist. They want a theocracy and they have to distort American history in order to persuade people to give it to them. Much the way they distort the facts about taking an oath on the Bible. I’m starting to think these people are pathological liars.


Blogger Publius II said...

Wow. Now THAT is very humorous. Good article, for the most part. I'll ignore the insults this time, just because the actual content is good.

These sort of people need to be educated on what is legally acceptable in this country and what is not.

December 05, 2006


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