Quran oath controversy of the 110th United States Congress

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Ellison's photo-op reenactment of his swearing in ceremony with Thomas Jefferson's Quran

In mid-November 2006 it was reported that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress (for Minnesota's 5th congressional district), "will take his oath of office with his hand upon the Qur'an, the Islamic holy book".[1][2] In reaction to the news, conservative media pundit Dennis Prager criticized the decision in his November 28, 2006 column entitled "America, not Keith Ellison, decides what book a Congressman takes his oath on".[3]

The column attracted national attention from both Ellison and Prager supporters. Presented with the fact that all members of the House swear in (or affirm) en masse without the use of any religious text, and that such works are only used in ceremonial reenactments afterwards, Prager stated "that’s the whole point: it’s exactly because it’s ceremonial that it matters".[4] In response to a wave of criticism, Prager released another column on the topic on December 5, 2006, entitled "A response to my many critics—and a solution".[5] In that column, Prager repeated the inaccurate claim that no, or hardly any, officeholder in U.S. history had ever refused to take his oath on the Bible.

The controversy became more heated when Rep. Virgil Goode (R–VA) issued a letter to his constituents stating his view that Ellison's decision to use the Qur'an is a threat to "the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America...[and] if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran".[6] Goode's foray into the controversy caused many other members of Congress to weigh in.

Ellison went on to use the English translation of the Qur'an owned by Thomas Jefferson for the swearing-in ceremony.[7]

Constitutional provisions[edit]

Critics of Prager point out that the United States Constitution provides "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States" (Article VI, section 3) and at least four Presidents have not been sworn in on a Bible.[8]

In his December 5, 2006 article on the subject Prager denied that he was promoting a de facto religious test, despite his statement that Ellison "should not be allowed" to take his oath on the Qur'an. "I never even hinted that there should be a religious test. It has never occurred to me that only Christians run for office in America. The idea is particularly laughable in my case since I am not now, nor ever have been, a Christian...I want people of every faith and of no faith who affirm the values I affirm to enter political life. My belief that the Bible should be present at any oath (or affirmation) of office has nothing whatsoever to do with the religion of the office holder. ...You don't have to be Christian to acknowledge that the Bible is the source of America's values. Virtually every founder of this country knew that and acknowledged it."[5]

Law Professor Eugene Volokh noted that the Constitution states officials "'shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required...' The option of giving an affirmation rather than oath...[shows] the Constitution thus already expressly authorizes people not to swear at all, but to affirm, without reference to God or to a sacred work. Atheists and agnostics are thus protected, as well as members of certain Christian groups, such as Quakers.[9] Why would Muslims and others not be equally protected from having to perform a religious ritual that expressly invokes a religion in which they do not believe?"[10] Volokh's point here is furthered by the fact that then Rep.-elect Mazie Hirono (D–HI), who is a Buddhist, announced that she would use the affirmation option and "has no plans to use any religious text in the swearing-in ceremony".[11]

Administration of Oath of Office[edit]

Text of the oath[edit]

The Senate Historical Office writes about the oath administrated to all elected or re-elected Federal Legislatures, "At the start of each new Congress, in January of every odd-numbered year, the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate performs a solemn and festive constitutional rite that is as old as the Republic.... The Constitution contains an oath of office only for the president. For other officials, including members of Congress, that document specifies only that they "shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this constitution." In 1789, the First Congress reworked this requirement into a simple fourteen-word oath: ‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.’" "The current oath is a product of the 1860s, drafted by Civil War–era members of Congress intent on ensnaring traitors."[12] The words of the oath are "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."[12]

Law Professor Eugene Volokh points out that the inclusion of "So help me God" is not legally necessary, as the Constitution "expressly authorizes people not to swear at all, but to affirm, without reference to God or to a sacred work".[10] While there is no guideline at the Federal level, many state Constitutions require those choosing to affirm, to substitute "So help me God" with "Under the pains and penalties of perjury".[13][14][15][16][17]

The Asian Tribune has reported that "Instead of ‘So Help me God’, Ellison, an African American and of Islamic faith, will pledge to uphold the Constitution of the United States ending with the phrase ‘Allahhu Akbar’ meaning 'God is Great' in Arabic."[18]

Oath ceremonies[edit]

The swearing-in, en masse, of the 108th United States House of Representatives, January 2003

The United States Congress does not swear anyone in using any holy book, "No Member of Congress is officially sworn in with a Bible. Under House rules, the official swearing-in ceremony is done in the House chambers, 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 holding a personal family Bible".[19] "By tradition, all members of the House are sworn in together on the House floor. It's in the photo-op ceremony that a Bible is used or in Ellison's case, the Quran".[20] The tradition of the photo reenactment oath "dates to the birth of photography, so congressmen could send photos back to their hometown newspapers".[21] The Press Secretary with the House Administration Committee stated that what Representatives do at the private ceremony is "between the new member and the Speaker’s office. They have to ‘work that out’."[22] All incoming freshman to the 110th Congress "will be sworn in on Jan. 4 by the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi".[23]

When questioned about this "Prager argued in a telephone interview [with the Associated Press] that the ceremony was no less significant than the actual swearing-in. 'Oh, that’s the whole point: it’s exactly because it’s ceremonial that it matters to me,' he said. 'Ceremonies are exceedingly important. That is the way a society states what is most significant to it.' Mr Prager argued that the issue was not about freedom of religion. 'I want Jews like myself to take the oath on the Bible, even though the New Testament is not our Bible,' he said. Asked if it would be a problem for a Jewish legislator to take the oath on a Bible that included only the Old Testament, Mr Prager responded, 'Yes, it would,' because he said the point is to honor the 'Bible of this country.'"[4]

An example of swearing-in reenactment, performed by E. Clay Shaw, Jr. and Dennis Hastert during the 108th Congress

In his December 5, 2006 article he expanded on the point "the very fact that it is a ceremony makes my point far more forcefully. Obviously, Mr. Ellison will have already been officially sworn in. Therefore, the use of the Koran has absolutely nothing to do with taking an oath on the book he holds sacred. It is used entirely to send a message to the American people. So all the arguments that he must be able to swear on the book he holds sacred are moot. He will have already been sworn in. Ceremonies matter a lot. As I told the Associated Press, ceremonies are essential to the continuity of a civilization. Therefore, the first time in American history that a congressman has decided to jettison the Bible for another text should not go unnoticed—or elicit yawns, as it has from conservative and libertarian critics."[5] "This is all symbolic, which makes it even more pointless to say [Ellison] can only take an oath on what he believes", Prager said in another interview.[24]

Questions on "unbroken tradition"[edit]

Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in aboard Air Force One with a Catholic missal.

Many critics have taken Prager to task for saying that swearing in with a Bible is a "tradition that has been unbroken since George Washington".[25] For example, John Quincy Adams took the presidential oath on a law volume containing a copy of the Constitution in 1825, and in 1853 Franklin Pierce affirmed the oath rather than swearing it. Herbert Hoover, citing his Quaker beliefs, also affirmed his oath in 1929 but did use a Bible, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Theodore Roosevelt used no Bible in taking his first oath of office in 1901, but did in 1905."[21] After John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Lyndon B. Johnson swore his oath on a Catholic Missal as no Bible could be found. (Johnson was not Catholic, but a Disciple of Christ[26])[27][28]

Prager has responded to some of this information in interviews. Eugene Volokh pointed out on Paula Zahn Now that Hoover didn’t swear on a Bible, but affirmed and took no oath. Prager replied "Herbert Hoover had a Bible...He just didn't swear by it, because I believe he was a Quaker. That's a very different story".[29] On Hannity and Colmes Prager stated "The only president who did not have a Bible was Theodore Roosevelt, first term, and it was because [President William] McKinley had just been shot. Every president used a Bible".[30] Again, this is false due to the example of John Quincy Adams, who could have used a Bible but chose instead a law volume.

The Library of Congress notes that "As the first Catholic elected president, Kennedy was the first to use a Catholic (Douay-Rheims) version of the Bible for his oath".[31] This means that Kennedy’s Bible was different from the Bibles of all other Presidents (past or present) as it contained the Deuterocanonical books which Protestants call the Apocrypha and reject, claiming these works are non-canonical.[32]

Prager rescinds call for Ellison not to serve[edit]

Despite writing that Ellison wants to use "the Koran. He should not be allowed to do so...If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book [the Bible], don't serve in Congress",[3] in a telephone interview with the Associated Press, Mr Prager said he did not think Mr Ellison should be banned from serving. "I don’t think anything legal should be done about this."[4] In an interview with USA Today's Andrea Stone, Prager announced "that he's going to keep pressing the issue, though he conceded that trying to ban Ellison from choosing to use a Qur'an 'may well be' unconstitutional. He'll be writing and talking about this issue again". Prager said "I'm not arguing legality. I'm arguing what you should do."[33]

Prager dismisses Tanakh oaths[edit]

Prager's November 28, 2006 article claimed that "for all of American history, Jews elected to public office have taken their oath on the Bible, even though they do not believe in the New Testament".[3] While for all of American history Jews elected to public office have indeed taken their oath on the Bible, several American members of Judaism elected to political office "have departed from the [Christian] Bible as well. Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle used the Tanakh when she took her oath in 2002, and Madeleine Kunin placed her hand on Jewish prayer books when she was sworn in as the first female governor of Vermont in 1985."[21] In the Federal Congress Debbie Wasserman Schultz also used a Tanakh, as did Ed Koch (D–NY) who served in the U.S. House from 1969 to 1977.[34] Likewise, Rep. Henry Waxman (D–CA) who is now entering his seventeenth term of office, stated "he had never used a [Christian] Bible at his own swearing-in ceremonies."[34]

When asked about this Prager said these "Jewish officeholders who had insisted on the Hebrew Bible were 'secularists' who didn't believe what was in it anyway".[33] This argument of course is incompatible with his earlier statement that the ceremony, not the officer's belief, is what matters.

When confronted on November 30, 2006, on CNN's Paula Zahn Now by Eugene Volokh with the fact that "[Associate] Justice [of the Supreme Court, Arthur] Goldberg used the Tanakh, the Jewish Bible". Prager responded "Justice Goldberg used [the] Old Testament, which is part of the American Bible." Volokh began to point out that the lack of New Testament in Goldberg's Bible proved that Prager's assertions were mistaken, but was cut off as the segment ran out of time.[29]

In his December 5, 2006 article Prager again acknowledged some Jews had used the Tanakh, "Even the vast majority of Jews elected to office have used a Bible containing both the Old and New Testaments, even though Jews do not regard the New Testament as part of their Bible. A tiny number of Jews have used only the Old Testament. As a religious Jew, I of course understand their decision, but I disagree with it."[5] He did not, however, accuse them of "disuniting the country," or imply that their actions could be more dangerous than the September 11 attacks as he did with Ellison.

Oath ceremonies of first Buddhists in Congressional history[edit]

Hank Johnson (D-GA)
Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

The New York Times pointed out with all the focus on Ellison's religious sensibilities, "we’ve neglected the fact that another faith is making its first showing in the Capitol with not one but two freshmen".[35] Mazie Hirono (D–HI) and Hank Johnson (D–GA), both elected in 2006, are the first Buddhists in American history to serve in the United States Congress.[36] The Times reported that "A spokesperson said that Mr. Johnson plans to use a Bible, citing tradition", and Hirono "said she probably would not use any book, but that in the past, when she was sworn in as lieutenant governor, she used a friend’s family Bible".[35]

Prager calls on Ellison to bring Bible with Qur'an[edit]

In his December 5, 2006 column entitled "A response to my many critics—and a solution", Prager's solution in the title is for Ellison to swear on the Islamic Qur'an which he believes to be sacred along with the Christian Bible which he does not. Prager wrote "It is not I, but Keith Ellison, who has engaged in disuniting the country. He can still help reunite it by simply bringing both books to his ceremonial swearing-in. Had he originally announced that he would do that, I would have written a different column -- filled with praise of him. And there would be a lot less cursing and anger in America."[5] In a December 7, 2006 interview, Prager continued along these lines, saying "I'm afraid we are becoming a diverse, secular society without any roots, and this is symbolically an example of that. The Bible is the repository of our values, not the Constitution...and I'm asking him to honor that and include the Bible along with the Koran."[37]

As an example Prager has referenced the case in 1999 when "M. Osman Siddique, a Virginia businessman of Bangladeshi origin, used the Quran to take the oath when he became the U.S. ambassador to Fiji and three other Pacific nations: Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu. He took the oath on the Bible and the Quran, with the Quran on top".[38] Siddique was "the first Muslim to be appointed to represent the United States abroad as an Ambassador. Following his swearing-in ceremony, Siddique said he believed he was the first American ambassador of the Islamic faith to take the oath of office with his hand on the Holy Qur’an. The Christian Bible is traditionally used to swear in U.S. officials and Siddique said his wife, Catherine Mary Siddique, provided one for the ceremony."[39]

Appearing on MSNBC with Tucker Carlson, Prager said "If he [Ellison] had the Koran and a Bible as one Muslim ambassador did about 10 years ago, I think it was the ambassador to the Fiji Islands, don't recall exactly, I wouldn‘t have ever written the column.... If he can‘t bring the Bible along with his Koran, that's a statement that we ought to take seriously.... We should pressure him to doing the great thing to unify Americans and bring the Bible along with the Koran. That's not exactly a terrible demand. It doesn't in any way compromise his Islamic faith. It says that he is saying to the American people, look, I am part of you. I don't want to demolish the tradition that has been unbroken since George Washington. I don't think that's too much to ask of Keith Ellison."[25]

Ellison did not denigrate the Bible and spoke of the influence both Catholicism and Islam had on his development saying "people draw strength and moral courage from a variety of religious traditions. Mine have come from both Catholicism and Islam. I was raised Catholic and later became a Muslim while attending Wayne State University. I am inspired by the Quran's message of an encompassing divine love, and a deep faith guides my life every day."[40]

Sharia rather than Constitution?[edit]

Some commentators and opinion pages responding to the Prager column have claimed that Ellison's desire to use the Qur'an is a sign that he is "disloyal" to the Constitution.[41][42] Jan Markell of Christian World View Weekend asked, "Doesn't this then mean he is pledging allegiance to Islamic Law (Sharia) rather than our Constitution?"[43] Perry Birman in a letter to the Sun–Sentinel asserted "America was not founded upon the values in the Quran. The Quran states that only Islamic law (Sharia) is valid -- thus rendering our Constitution null and void from its perspective. If Mr. Ellison wants to be sworn in in this manner, I recommend he run for election in a country that embraces the principles in the Quran. A country like Iran or Saudi Arabia."[44]

J. Grant Swank, Jr. Pastor, New Hope Church of Windham, Maine, said "Keith Ellison, D–MN, is not a ‘patriot,’ though he claims to be. He is a radical Muslim who believes the Koran is above all other documents for it is the divine revelation. That would make the Koran above the United States Constitution. He believes in the sharia 'legal and justice system' which has barbarism as its base. Study Muslim nations to open the eyes to the atrocities carried out via sharia — females hung from roadway poles, females piled into earth mounds to have their heads bashed in, youths strapped to public posts for lashings and so forth and so forth. Yet he has been elected to the United States Congress for the purpose of making laws for Americans. Yet he is antithetical to American values, particularly the Judeo-Christian heritage.... Noting Ellison’s public statements, there is no way that he can follow through with such a swearing in. He has loyalties that oppose everything basic in America."[45]

A similar editorial by the Investor's Business Daily said "The issue, rather, is one of loyalty.... This [oath] presents a potential conflict for Ellison, who in recent years converted to orthodox Sunni Islam...Can he [Ellison] make such a pledge ‘without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion’? Many orthodox Muslims, even those living in America as citizens, believe that the Quran, not the Constitution, should be the highest authority in the land...In other words, the Constitution is blasphemous to Allah. It's not clear if Ellison shares this belief, but it's something he should answer before he's seated with new members. Islamic apologists in the media will shy from any questions that look like a religious test. But leaders in Congress have a duty to ensure loyalty and security, especially in time of war...Ellison is dead-set on using the Quran. Why is he so adamant? We can't get inside his head to know if it's because he feels he'll be pledging allegiance to the Quran and all it represents, rather than the Constitution and all it represents."[46]

Bryan Fischer of Renew America stated "in Islamic theology, it is permissible to lie to infidels if it will provide strategic advantage for the Islamic cause. Treaties with infidels can be broken with impunity when they no longer serve the Muslim cause. Islamic theology... contains what is called the doctrine of ketman, or mental reservation, which is 'telling the truth, but not the whole truth, with the intention to mislead.' This is the Islamic version of crossing your fingers behind your back when telling a lie. American citizens have a right to know if Ellison adheres to this tenet of Islamic faith. This is directly relevant to his swearing in, for the oath requires him to swear allegiance to the Constitution ‘without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.’"[47]

These types of comments fail to note that Ellison has served in the Minnesota State House of Representatives (serving District 58B) beginning on January 8, 2003, when he swore "to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Minnesota". This swearing in complied with Article VI, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution which states (emphasis added) "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." No one, including his opponents in the 2006 election, has ever claimed Ellison has violated this oath. Like the swearing in en masse in the Federal House of Representatives "No good book was involved when Ellison took the oath of office on the floor of the Minnesota House. According to House Chief Clerk Al Mathiowetz, members raise their hands together and are administered the oath by a jurist, usually a member of the Minnesota Supreme Court."[48]

Prager's December 27, 2006 column[edit]

On December 27, 2006 Prager returned to the issue in a column called "The culture war is about the authority of a book",[49] in which he espoused that the root of the controversy was over people arguing if the Torah was inspired or not, "Does the person believe in the divinity and authority of the Five Books of Moses, the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah?... What matters is not whether people believe in God but what text, if any, they believe to be divine... a belief or lack of belief in the divinity of a book dating back over 2,500 years is at the center of the Culture War in America... it not only explains these divisions; it also explains the hatred that much of the Left has for Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and Mormon Bible-believers. For the Left, such beliefs are irrational, absurd and immoral. Which is exactly how most conservatives regard most leftist beliefs.... This divide explains why the wrath of the Left has fallen on those of us who lament the exclusion of the Bible at a ceremonial swearing-in of an American congressman. The Left wants to see that book [the Torah] dethroned. And that, in a nutshell, is what the present civil war is about."[49]

Prager also listed beliefs he claimed were held by liberals, "leftist beliefs, such as: there is nothing inherently superior in a child being raised by a mother and father rather than by two fathers or two mothers; men and women are not basically different, but only socially influenced to be different; Marxism was scientific; that the Soviet Union was not an evil empire; it was immoral for Israel to bomb Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor; morality is relative to the individual or society; there is no moral judgment to be made about a woman aborting a healthy human fetus solely because she doesn't want a baby at this time; material poverty, not moral poverty, causes violent crime, etc."[49]

It has been noted by many that Keith Ellison’s support of access to abortion and gay rights is at odds with the traditional interpretation of the Qur'an, "Chances are, if Muslims saw another candidate with Ellison's stands on gay rights, abortion, and his suspiciously boiler plate platform on Israel, Iran, and the Middle East, they would not support him. Yet Ellison has the admiration of his Muslim constituents... the notoriety supersedes the reservations. Beyond this, Muslims in the west should realize that they are seeing the face of future generations take shape, generations that might adopt cultural and political values that aren't necessarily the same as their forebearers or against Islam as they choose to practice it. Politically speaking, issues like equal rights for gays within a pluralistic society make sense when Muslims demand the same equal protection".[50][51][52]

Organizational responses[edit]

The American Family Association supported Dennis Prager’s column about Ellison’s intention to use the Qur'an at his oath ceremonies. However several other advocacy groups were critical of him including, the Arab American Institute, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and the American Jewish Committee. Also the Anti-Defamation League, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism issued statements critical of Prager that he responded to in interviews.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council's resolution[edit]

Because of his part in the controversy, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called for Prager to be removed from the council overseeing the U.S. Holocaust Memorial. CAIR's executive director said "No one who holds such bigoted, intolerant and divisive views should be in a policymaking position at a taxpayer-funded institution that seeks to educate Americans about the destructive impact hatred has had, and continues to have, on every society".[20] Some members of the Memorial Council like Ed Koch were vocal in advocating his removal. In the end the executive committee of the council issued a resolution that the Council "disassociates itself from Mr. Prager's statements as being antithetical to the mission of the [Holocaust] Museum as an institution promoting tolerance and respect for all peoples regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity".[53]

Responses in the media[edit]

Tucker Carlson[edit]

In an interview with Prager on his MSNBC show Tucker Carlson found Prager's logic confusing, saying "I'm no great defender of the Koran, but I'm not sure why America is imperiled by Keith Ellison's taking the oath on it... it's hard for me to believe I'm defending the Koran here. But that document [the Constitution] says very clearly no religious test will ever be required for holding office and you're implying holding up a religious test.... If you don't believe in the God at the very center [of] that document [the Christian Bible], you still have to acknowledge the centrality of the document? With respect, that doesn't make sense.... Here we have a Jew pushing a Muslim to use the Christian Bible. This is—that's America."[25]

David Kuo[edit]

David Kuo, author of Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction and fomer deputy director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, took issue with Prager’s statement that “What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book." Kuo wrote “So the Bible is America's holiest book? Was there a vote? Did Oprah decide? Was it Jefferson? And if so was it his version of the Bible? Does that mean it is true of every American citizen? Even Kevin Federline? And if it is true then America, with its indifference to the poor and lust for money and power, would be seriously backsliding and in need of spiritual counseling.... The Bible may be America's most symbolically holy book for many people. But that is only within the context of American civil religion. And only within the context of civil religion is there a question of whether or not the Koran can be used for a swearing in ceremony. There, again, the answer is an easy one—yes.”[54]

Michael Savage[edit]

On November 28, 2006, conservative commentator Michael Savage ranted on his show The Savage Nation: “Keith Ellison won't swear to uphold the oath of office on the Bible, but on the Quran instead. This is unbelievable to me. So what's next? A witch gets elected, and she says she's gonna only be sworn in with her hand over a pentagram? Where does this end? Tell me when this ends, the tyranny of the psycho, whacked-out minority. Tell me when it ends.”[55]

Mike S. Adams[edit]

Mike S. Adams, a conservative columnist for Townhall.com (alongside Prager) announced: “I am seldom embarrassed to be a Republican. But recent Republican efforts to keep newly elected Democrat [sic] Representative Keith Ellison from taking his oath of office on the Koran are indeed embarrassing. These efforts have been justified by some as a necessary part of the War on Terror and by others as a stance against multi-culturalism. I view these efforts as acts of unmitigated religious bigotry... some have noted that Muslim extremists would see Ellison’s oath on the Koran as a victory that would encourage them to commit acts of violence in the name of Islam. That is true. But Muslim extremists would see a prevention of Ellison’s oath on the Koran as an insult that would encourage them to commit acts of violence in the name of Islam. In that respect Muslim extremists[’]... emotional instability justifies Jihad... under any conceivable circumstance.... Since we can expect a negative consequence no matter what we do with Ellison’s request we should make a decision based on principle rather than pragmatism. In my view, the overriding principle is individual religious liberty, not collectivism hidden beneath the veil of mainstream conservatism.”[56]

Gary Bauer[edit]

Gary Bauer, head of “American Values” advocacy group, said “carefulness is needed in this situation—especially in light of the fact that one of the first things Ellison did after being elected was ‘to go speak to a number of very questionable radical Islamic rights organizations. So I think we're going to find a lot of things about him very disturbing. I must admit, I've got mixed emotions about it, I think this new Muslim congressman is going to be trouble because of what he believes -- not his Islamic faith as much as his radicalism on key issues and the fact that he will, I think, be a vote against any kind of serious war against Islamofascism.’”[57]

Ahmed Rehab[edit]

Ahmed Rehab the Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago took issue with Prager “For one, it is irresponsible, at the very least, to compare the relatively uneventful effect of one congressman’s ceremonial oath to the tragic effects of a monstrous attack that took 3,000 innocent lives and scarred our nation forever. Likewise, it is insane to compare a democratically-elected and committed leader of this country to its most deadly assailants. The only reason why Prager thought up such a farcical and far-fetched allusion in the first place is that Ellison is Muslim. It is inconceivable that he would have invoked the 9-11 terrorist attack had Ellison ascribed to any faith other than Islam. Secondly, what is with the Bible litmus test? Since when does America stipulate that its elected officials must show loyalty to a specific theology before they can be loyal citizens and trustworthy public officers? Indeed, one needs dig no deeper than the very title of Prager’s column to excavate the morbid irony in his two-faced treatise: ‘America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on.’ OK, so what does the U.S. Constitution – a.k.a. America - decide for Ellison? ...‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.’ ... our secular democracy is not governed by an allegiance to the faith of whoever is in the demographic majority or whoever landed on our shores first, but is governed by what many of us affectionately call ‘our Constitution.’”[58]

Mary Graber[edit]

Mary Graber, a fellow conservative columnist with Prager at townhall.com, wrote “It's not just about the Koran or the Bible. It’s about all the books and documents that follow—like the Constitution. It’s about being on the same page, for the one who takes office with his hand on the Koran, as Congressman-elect Keith Ellison proposes to do, makes a profound statement. By rejecting the Bible, he rejects its and our country’s principles of reason and free will. He rejects a book written and confirmed by many over thousands of years for a book based on the revelation of one man who claims to be a prophet. He rejects a book that values engagement through reason for one that is intended to be recited and obeyed. Keith Ellison wants to govern in a country whose values he rejects. Keith Ellison rejected American values quite deliberately and not insignificantly as a college student at Wayne State University in the early 1980s. He made that choice in the tradition of the 1960s radicals who turned to other religions in their wholesale rejection of Western values—with white radicals turning to Eastern and pagan religions repackaged as New Age “spirituality”, and black radicals turning to the putative religion of their African forebears: Islam”.[59] Grabar saw Ellison’s articles in Law School in support of Louis Farrakhan as proof he joined the Nation of Islam (an association Ellison, a Sunni, denies), Graber said the controversy “is about someone who followed the lead of a black separatist, Malcolm X, who rejected our principles of justice, the law, and reasoned debate for that of by “any means necessary”—symbolized by the clenched fist. This isn’t about religion as a “choice”, as one of many in a smorgasbord of religious choices. This is about the culture that follows from these two radically different books: the Koran and the Bible. It’s about how we think and the values we hold and pass on. It’s about our culture and our democracy, Christian in origin. It’s about those who voted for Ellison, and who now ridicule debates about his oath, those who place their faith in a vague Unitarianism of one world/one god. They are too stupid to realize that when the system based on reason and free will is neutered the way is opened for the system based on raw power”.[59] Grabar saw the controversy as stemming from a liberal academic conspiracy, “The holy war for the hearts and minds of the young was begun in the classroom over forty years ago, during the formative years of Ellison’s professors...This has been a decades-long project. In classrooms, the anti-American message was promoted through an attack on the notions of truth and reason, through sophisticated sounding theories of postmodernism.... In spite of decades of civil rights legislation, affirmative action, and special funding for minorities, professors are still repeating the same lectures about the terrible Western hegemony. I have been required to teach from anthologies that present such skewed views of West and had been instructed to put on my syllabi that an objective of each literature class is to learn about ‘gender, race, and class.’ There is a reason that after their own acts of murder, terrorism, and intimidation, the Nation of Islam radicals and their white supporters set out to destroy the curriculum. They were training the next generation. The multiculturalists presented reason and truth as notions of a Western imperialistic culture; as a result, now reigning in our educational institutions is the unquestioned dogma of multiculturalism that dismisses debate about the dangers of Keith Ellison as merely ‘intolerance.’”[59]

Michael Medved[edit]

Michael Medved, host of the nationally syndicated Michael Medved Show and a contributing editor at Townhall.com, wrote: “There is no logical or constitutional basis for denying a duly elected member of Congress the right to select the holy book he chooses to use in taking his oath of office. ...Some religious conservatives have made themselves look terrible — mean-spirited and intolerant and theocratic—by objecting to this innocuous gesture, and generating a phony controversy over longstanding traditions of religious pluralism.... It is hard to see how the prospect of one House member out of 435 using his Koran to swear allegiance to the Constitution represents the ‘Islamicization’ of anything. If some Muslim fanatics insisted that we change our currency to bear the legend "In Allah We Trust", or demanded that government cafeterias stop serving daytime food during the fasting month of Ramadan, that would represent an outrageous attempt to Islamize the nation.... If this personal decision represents the ‘Islamicization’ of the society, then what does my friend Dennis make of the yearly invitations to Muslim Imams to conduct opening prayers for the House or Senate? We've also seen White House celebrations under both Clinton and Bush of major Muslim feasts (Eid al Adha and Eid al Fitr) in which Presidents publicly honor Islamic traditions.[60][61][62] There's even a stamp from the U.S. Post Office to celebrate Islamic holidays[63] — complementing similar stamps that honor Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanzaa....[64] We may not like their religion, but as long as its adherents conduct themselves as loyal and law-abiding Americans we have no right to restrict its practice.... His Islamic faith received extensive coverage during the campaign and no one from his district will be surprised when he takes the oath on the Koran. If we respect the electoral process, aren't the voters entitled to choose a Muslim representative, and having made that choice, aren't they also entitled to expect that his new colleagues won't compel him to hide or disregard the Islamic faith he very publicly professed?... Should the Congress force new members to choose one particular version or translation of the Bible, because that's the edition favored by a majority? There are obvious and important differences in the Biblical text approved by the Catholic Church, various Protestant denominations, by Jews (no New Testament), and by Mormons (adding the Book of Mormon). Do we need a new bureaucracy to approve certain Holy Books and disapprove others? ... [When Prager writes] ‘America is interested in only one book, the Bible.’ This startling, flat-footed assertion is the equivalent of declaring the Bible to be America's sole, official, governmentally sanctioned Holy Book. Wouldn't such endorsement represent precisely the sort of ‘establishment of religion’ that our founders explicitly prohibited in the First Amendment?”[65]

Clarence Page[edit]

Clarence Page a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist wrote, “Poor naive me. Here I thought it was an encouraging sign of this country's respect for liberty and diversity that Americans would elect a Muslim to Congress in the midst of an international war against Islamic terrorists. No country is perfect, but we've come a long way on the tolerance scale since World War II when thousands of innocent Japanese Americans were rounded up into camps far from home just for having Japanese ancestry.” Page took issue with Prager’s implication that “‘the act (of taking the oath on the Koran) undermines American culture.’ Again, poor naive me. I had no idea that American civilization was so fragile. Prager must think that Koran is some truly powerful book.” Page noted with amusement that “Prager appears to have performed a minor miracle: He has made Ellison look sympathetic in the eyes of a newspaper that opposed his election. ‘Mr. Prager is not only wrong,’ a [New York] Sun editorial[66] said, ‘but his comments are so outrageous and, by our lights, almost unbelievably ignorant, that one just has to shake one's head in wonder.’” Agreeing with the statements of Sen. Norm Coleman who disagreed with Prager’s column while dismissing attempts to remove him from the Holocaust Memorial Council, Page wrote “Both sides should back off in the spirit of all-American tolerance and mutual respect for differences. After all, we need to set a good example for Iraq.”[67]

Daisy Khan[edit]

Daisy Khan of the American Society for Muslim Advancement said “Well, I think the foundational values of America, our freedom of religion and freedom to express your religion and to practice in the way that you see your values. And I think what is important is this is a very proud moment for Americans, American Muslims and all Americans, and I think it is sad that somebody would try to ruin this moment for all of us by trying [to interject controversy].... America is great, and we have to uphold America's greatest values, which is coming together of all. You know, we're a multi-cultural, multi-religious society and we have to work together to create a good society... an oath is something that is very important. And I think it's his integrity that he's speaking from, not a lack of integrity”.[29]

Kathleen Parker[edit]

Columnist Kathleen Parker in an article called “The wolf who cried racist” scoffed at CAIR’s calling for Prager’s removal off the Holocaust Council “CAIR routinely demonstrates intolerance for any opinion deemed insensitive to its views and targets individuals and institutions for cyber-posses and technomobs”.[68] “Hoisting the red flag, as Prager has done, isn't an act of bigotry—or even schmuckery. It is the understandable reflex of a man, who, as Prager himself puts it, knows that a Bible-swearing nation has been, and will be, a better place for Jews to live than one that swears on the Koran. Genius is not required to grasp that concept, but civility is critical to debating these issues.” Referring to Koch calling Prager a bigot and a schmuck who should not be on the Holocaust council she said “Name-calling and showboating righteousness—or demanding punitive action against those who voice an unpopular opinion—is the wrong way up a dead-end street. Radical Islam loves that sort of dogmatic intransigence.”[68]

C. Welton Gaddy[edit]

Reverend Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of The Interfaith Alliance, host of “State of Belief” on Air America Radio called Prager’s Nov. 28th column a “self-righteous screed”. He also wrote “Mr. Prager said that this act ‘undermines American civilization,’ and that when a Congressman takes an oath of office, ‘America is interested in only one book, the Bible.’ Obviously, Mr. Prager and those he has inflamed have little faith in American civilization and underestimate the American people.... And most Americans are not interested in only one book. We passionately believe in religious freedom and we respect the beliefs of others as well as the sacred scriptures of all religions.”[69]

Malik Zulu Shabazz[edit]

Malik Zulu Shabazz, the National Chairman of the New Black Panther Party said “If the congressman has freedom of religion in his constitutional rights, he should be able to use the book of his choice.... All Muslims respect the Bible, but he should have the opportunity [to use the Quran if he wants]. Islam has contributed a lot to America. In the middle of the Supreme Court is—in the rotunda is a statue or bust of the Prophet Muhammad showing the respect that American law and jurisprudence has for the revealer of the Quran. Many of our American presidents are Masons and Shriners who got to the 33rd degree and studied the Quran in secret and have the star and the crescent on their fez. So Islam is at the basis of Western and American civilization. If Tom [sic; former Rep. Mark] Foley [R–FL] and [former House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay [R–TX] can swear on a Bible and commit severe acts of corruption after that.... So much unrighteousness takes place after that swearing-in, we should disassociate all holy books from Congress until Congress has cleaned up.”[30]

Paul C. Campos[edit]

Columnist Paul Campos says Prager’s demand that the Christian Bible be used in Congressional oaths is a “betrayal of his ancestors, who sacrificed so much for their faith.... In the end, people like Prager display far more contempt for genuine religious belief than the most militant atheist. In Prager's view, sincerely affirming one's devotion to the Christian faith - something that innumerable people have been tortured to death for doing or refusing to do - is less important than the political advantages to be gained from swearing a blasphemous oath on a sacred text that he doesn't actually believe in”.[70]

Alan Dershowitz[edit]

Civil rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz thought Prager's position was ironic considering the difficulties past American Jews have had, he wrote "Jacob Henry, a Jew who was elected to North Carolina's legislature in 1808, but was blocked from taking his seat by a law requiring him to accept the divinity of the New Testament, posed the following rhetorical question: 'Will you drive from your shores and from the shelter of your constitution all who do not lay their oblations on the same altar, observe the same ritual, and subscribe to the same dogmas? If so, which among the various sects into which we are divided shall be the favored one?' As if to demonstrate that intolerance once practiced against Jews can also be practiced by some Jews against other minorities, a Jewish right wing talk show host named Dennis Prager led a campaign to disallow the first Muslim elected to Congress (in November 2006) to take an oath of office on the Koran.'"[71]

Judge Roy Moore[edit]

Former Alabama state Judge Roy Moore called on Congress to not allow Ellison to take his seat, saying “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.... The Islamic faith rejects our God and believes that the state must mandate the worship of its own god, 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.... 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!”[72]

Eugene Volokh[edit]

The McClatchy chain of newspapers noted the response of Eugene Volokh, a professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles, who wrote for the National Review Online.[73] Volokh took issue with Prager, “whose work I often much like”, saying he “mistakes the purpose of the oath, and misunderstands the Constitution”. Volokh quotes the Federal Rules of Evidence to illustrate the purpose of taking oaths “‘Before testifying, every witness shall be required to declare that the witness will testify truthfully, by oath or affirmation administered in a form calculated to awaken the witness’ conscience and impress the witness’ mind with the duty to do so.’ If you want the oath to be maximally effective, then it is indeed entirely true that ‘all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.’ That book is the one that will most impress the oathtaker’s mind with the duty to comply with the oath”. Volokh declared that while Prager may be seeking “some unifying value system” he was making a de facto religious test which is unconstitutional, “For the devout, taking an oath upon a religious book is a religious act. Requiring the performance of a religious act using the holy book of a particular religion is a religious test. If Congress were indeed to take the view [proposed in Prager’s column] that ‘If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book [the Bible], don’t serve in Congress,’ it would be imposing an unconstitutional religious test.”[10]

Minnesotans' responses[edit]

Besides the aformentioned Senator Norm Coleman, other residents from Ellison's home state of Minnesota have commented on the controversy.

Tammy Lee, the Independence Party opponent of Ellison in the 2006 election, said, "This country was founded on principles of freedom of religion. Our Constitution guarantees it, and as a newly elected member of Congress who's going to uphold the Constitution, he has every right to choose what religious traditions he wants to practice."[74]

Ron Eibensteiner, former state Republican Party chairman said "It doesn't matter if he wants to be sworn in on the Qur'an; that's perfectly fine. We have in this country freedom of religion and free speech."[74]

Dan Barreiro radio talk show host for KFAN 1130-AM of Minneapolis-St. Paul said he was "a bit bewildered" by the concern over Ellison’s use of the Quran. On his "Bumper-to-Bumper" radio show "The general consensus I got was that most people were not terrified at the prospect that this was something that he might do. Certainly there is no law that mandates that a person put their hand on a Bible as any kind of litmus test of their loyalty to the country".[74]

Responses of elected officials[edit]

Debbie Wasserman Schultz[edit]

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, (D–Fla) stated "Each of us has every right to lay our hand on the Bible that we were raised with; that's what America is all about, diversity, understanding and tolerance. It doesn't appear that Dennis Prager has learned anything from his time on the Holocaust commission."[21]

Tom Tancredo[edit]

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R–CO), known as "a prominent conservative" supported Ellison saying, "He wants to take his oath on the Quran, that's fine. I think whatever you believe is necessary for you to uphold your obligations to the Constitution, that is fine with me".[75]

Emanuel Cleaver II[edit]

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D–MO) stated, "I do not believe that the law or rules should be changed to require one official holy book for use in administering our oath of office. As a Member of Congress and as an ordained minister, I believe America's founders erected a wall between church and state – not to keep religion or faith out of public discourse – but instead, to keep the government out of an individual's faith and out of churches or other places of worship. I recall that our founders prohibited any religious test to qualify for public office and our Constitution already protects public prayer and other public observances of an individual's religious expressions. Imposing one holy book for the administration of a federal oath of office will diminish the religious liberties of all Americans, including my colleagues in Congress who do not share my Christian faith but may be Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist or some other belief."[76]

John Warner[edit]

Senator John Warner (R–VA), said that "As we continue to seek new strategies to protect our nation, I feel strongly that America must continue its outreach to the majority of moderate, peaceful members of the Islamic faith, as partners in combating terrorism. I respect the Constitutional right of Members of Congress, indeed, of every U.S. citizen, freely to exercise the religion of their choice, including those of the Islamic faith utilizing the Koran in accordance with the tenets of their religion."[77]

Impact of Rep. Virgil Goode[edit]

US Rep. Virgil H. Goode, Jr., of Virginia's 5th district

A new level of gravity came to the controversy when responding to "a flood of e-mails from constituents"[6] about Ellison's oath, fifth term Rep. Virgil H. Goode, Jr. (R–VA) issued a letter on the matter. Goode wrote "When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.... I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped."[6]

Goode's letter generated much criticism from Muslim-American advocacy groups and from his fellow United States Legislators. Among those critical of Goode, are Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D–NJ), Jim Moran (D–VA), Michael Honda (D-CA), Rahm Emanuel (D–IL), and Nancy Pelosi (D–CA) plus Sens. Bob Menendez (D–NJ) and Lindsey Graham (R–SC).

Goode's spokesman, Linwood Duncan, said "no apology was forthcoming, and that the congressman stands by the letter."[78][79]

Ellison's Union Hall remarks[edit]

On January 2, 2007, in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Anthony, Ellison spoke to a reporter at his send-off at a union hall. He dismissed the controversy, saying "I'm just excited and looking forward to serving this great country of ours". Saying that "a majority of the constituents who have contacted his office about the matter are ‘overwhelmingly supportive of religious tolerance.’ When asked if he thought the issue would blow over during his upcoming term, he laughed and said "I think it will blow over by next week!"[80]

Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an[edit]

Mark Dimunation, Chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

On January 3, 2007, the Washington Post announced that Ellison "will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson" loaned to him by "the rare book and special collections division at the Library of Congress".[81] Jefferson's home at Monticello is coincidentally in Virginia's 5th congressional district which is represented in the Federal Congress by Virgil Goode, a major figure in the controversy (see above).

Mark Dimunation, head of the rare book and special collections division at the Library of Congress (and former resident of the Congressional District Ellison now represents) said he was contacted early in December 2006 by Ellison, who told him "He wanted to use a Koran that was special."[81] In the past the Library of Congress has also loaned out rare Bibles "for inaugurations and other special occasions."[81] Dimunation, who "will walk the Quran across the street to the Capitol and bring it back after the ceremony", said "As a rare book librarian, there is something special about the idea that Thomas Jefferson's books are being walked across the street to the Capitol building, to bring in yet another session of governmental structure that he helped create."[82]

Kevin J. Hayes, author of How Thomas Jefferson Read the Qur’an, wrote that Jefferson purchased the Qur'an at the printing office of the Virginia Gazette in the autumn of 1765. This is seen as a development of his legal studies on natural law. "The standard work in the field, Freiherr von Pufendorf's Of the Law and Nature and Nations, gave readers an almost endless number of possible references to track down and thus offered Jefferson an excellent guide to further reading. Though Pufendorf's work reflects a prejudice against Islam characteristic of the time in which it was written, he nonetheless cited precedent from the Qur'an in several instances. Jefferson acquired his Qur'an not long after the injustice of the Stamp Act had forced him to question seriously the heritage of English constitutional law and to seek ultimate answers in the ideas of natural law and natural rights. Reading the Qur'an also let him continue studying the history of religion."[83]

Jefferson's Qur'an is an English translation by George Sale that was published in London in 1764 (a later pressing of the 1734 edition). Chief Librarian Dimunation stated that Sale's translation "is considered the text that shaped Europe's understanding of the Quran". Congress acquired this Qur'an in 1815 as part of the more than 6,400-volume collection Jefferson sold them for $24,000 to replace the congressional library burned by British troops in 1814 during the War of 1812. The Qur'an survived the 1851 fire in the Capitol that destroyed most of Jefferson's collection. It is a two-volume work, bound in leather with marble boards, and was given a leather binding in 1919. Its title page reads, "The Koran, commonly called 'The Alcoran of Mohammed.'" Jefferson marked his ownership of the book by writing the letter "J" next to the letter "T" that was already at the bottom of pages.[7][81][82]

Ellison spokesman Rick Jauert said "Keith is paying respect not only to the founding fathers' belief in religious freedom but the Constitution itself."[81] Ellison, who was originally told about the Qur'an from an anonymous letter, spoke to the Associated Press in a phone interview. He said that using Jefferson's Qur'an makes a point, "It demonstrates that from the very beginning of our country, we had people who were visionary, who were religiously tolerant, who believed that knowledge and wisdom could be gleaned from any number of sources, including the Quran. A visionary like Thomas Jefferson was not afraid of a different belief system", Ellison said. "This just shows that religious tolerance is the bedrock of our country, and religious differences are nothing to be afraid of."[82]

Opening day of the 110th Congress[edit]

Ellison at interfaith service[edit]

On January 4, 2007, before the first session of the 110th Congress, Ellison at a multi-faith prayer service recited verse Al-Hujurat 49:13 from the Quran which said: ‘Oh, humanity, we created you from a single pair, male and female, and made you tribes and nations so that you would know each other and not despise each other.’”[84][85]

Ellison meets Goode[edit]

After the swearing-in en masse, representatives greeted each other on the House floor and Ellison and Virgil Goode were introduced, shook hands and agreed to talk at length later.

Ceremonial reenactment[edit]

After the members of the 110th House of Representatives were sworn in en masse, Ellison was the first Representative scheduled to have his picture taken with the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Though the Library of Congress is directly across the street from the Capitol, Thomas Jefferson’s Quran took fifteen minutes to arrive as it was brought through "a long, winding underground route via tunnels... to protect the Quran from the element".[7] Once inside the Capitol the Quran was placed in a rectangular box, and handled with a green felt wrapper then guards ran the book through security x-ray machines. Ellison was impressed by the two-volume set, saying "Look at that. That’s something else. Oh my God. This is great." A few minutes later, Nancy Pelosi arrived and photos of a ceremonial reenactment oath were taken. There were so many of Ellison’s family in attendance that the ceremony was done in two takes. Among his family was his mother Clida Ellison who thought that the controversy had a positive effect, "because many people in America are going to learn what the diversity of America is all about". Clida Ellison noted that she is a practicing Roman Catholic who goes to Mass every day. Ellison expressed his satisfaction that the controversy was behind him, "It was good, we did it, it's over, and now it's time to get down to business... maybe we don't have to talk about it so much anymore. Not that I'm complaining, but the pressing issues the country is facing are just a little bit more on my mind right now."[7]

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  37. ^ Jane Lampman (December 7, 2006). "At swearing in, congressman wants to carry Koran. Outrage ensues.". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2006-12-07. 
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  42. ^ Diana West (December 8, 2006). "Swearing on the Koran: Beyond symbolism". Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
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  62. ^ An example of Medved’s point for Pres. Clinton is found at "President Clinton's Eid and Ramadan Messages for 2000". Office of the Press Secretary. December 22, 2000. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
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  64. ^ The stamps Medved refers to can be seen here "USPS Holiday Stamps". United States Postal Service. 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-12. [dead link]
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  67. ^ Clarence Page (December 11, 2006). "Sectarian Peace Begins at Home". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
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  72. ^ Roy Moore (December 13, 2006). "Muslim Ellison should not sit in Congress". WorldNetDaily. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
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  76. ^ "'Threat' to Bush generates 'no comment' from White House". WorldNetDaily. December 7, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-07. 
  77. ^ "Virginia Muslims Want Apology from Goode". December 22, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-22. 
  78. ^ "Va. Congressman Fears Election Of 'Many More Muslims'". MSNBC. December 20, 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-01-02. Retrieved 2006-12-20. 
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