Why Does Dennis Prager Hate America? And Other Religious Questions

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conservatism, Religion

Dennis Prager: One more rightie who wants to shred the Constitution. Just read this sewage he spewed out at Townhall.

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

He should not be allowed to do so — not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism — my culture trumps America’s culture. 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.

If “America” forces an elected official to venerate a religion other than his own in order to take office, then “America” has just shredded the First Amendment and violated Article VI, paragraph 3:

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.

According to Robin Marty of the Minnesota Monitor,

In our country’s history, four presidents have been inaugurated without swearing an oath on the Bible. Franklin Pierce was affirmed, and swore no oath, Rutherford Hayes initially had a private ceremony with no Bible before his public ceremony, Theodore Roosevelt had no Bible at his ceremony, and Lyndon Johnson used a missal during his first term.

Despite Prager’s insistence 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,” it is clear that he is wrong. Linda Lingle, Governor of Hawaii, took the oath of office on a Torah in 2001. Madeleine Kunin, a Jewish Immigrant and Governor of Vermont “rested her left hand on a stack of old prayer books that had belonged to her mother, grandparents, and great grandfather” as “a physical expression of the weight of Jewish history.”

And in North Carolina, the Notary Public has a written code for swearing in:

    “A person taking an oath should place one hand on the Holy Scriptures. This book will vary depending on the person’s religious beliefs: Christians should use the New Testament or the Bible; Jews, the Torah or the Old Testament; Moslems, the Koran; Hindus, the Bhagavad-Gita; etc.”

Prager’s column is nothing but bigotry and jingoism. Prager and other whackjobs (see previous post) demand that their points of view be respected, but there’s no virtue in tolerating intolerance (or, as in the previous post, plain ol’ idiocy).

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23 Comments

  1. Jeff r  •  Nov 28, 2006 @11:44 am

    So one guy takes his oath of office on the Koran, and that “undermines American civilization.”

    Doesn’t take much to give a wingnut a wedgie, does it?

  2. Jack K. the Grumpy Forester  •  Nov 28, 2006 @12:06 pm

    …it is an interesting concept. American civilization is sustained only when the oath of office involves swearing to a diety that you don’t believe in that you will faithfully execute the requirements of that office. Prager needs to travel more, maybe find out that American culture has changed some since “Ozzie and Harriet” went into syndication…

  3. felicity smith  •  Nov 28, 2006 @12:15 pm

    I have never really understood the hand-on-the-book ritual but is it possible that if you have your hand on a book that is meaningless to you, that the oath your’re taking is naturally equally meaningless?

    BUT then there’s Mr. Bush who took his oath with his hand on a book he seems to find quite meaningful but apparently the accompanying oath he took he considers quite meaningless. (Doesn’t the oath he took say something about preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution?)

    Given Mr. Praeger’s sympathies it’s a good guess that the “book” one has his hand on when taking an oath is of great importance while the words one repeats are really beside the point.

  4. moonbat  •  Nov 28, 2006 @12:24 pm

    ..First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism — my culture trumps America’s culture.

    Righties see competition/threats everywhere, even when it doesn’t exist. They just can’t see this as multiple perspectives peacefully coexisting simultaneously, even enriching each other. Righties are hopelessly insecure in a multi-cultural world and so they try to build walls of bigotry and hide behind them.

    Safely behind their walls, they shout: “My God is Bigger Than Yours…”

    …which is another way of saying, “nyah-nyah-na-nyah-nyah”.

    I wish the hell they’d grow up. They are too small for something as grand as Article VI, paragraph 3, of the First Amendment.

  5. Ian  •  Nov 28, 2006 @12:37 pm

    That NC Notary Public code thingy is interesting … so what would be used for an atheist? A copy of Origin of the Species perhaps? Or a Wiccan … so far as I know, there IS no single “Holy Text” for Wiccans… What if somebody insists that their religion is actually IPUism, or FSMism? (that’s Invisible Pink Unicorn and Flying Spaghetti Monster, respectively) Would NC be forced to accept those as valid religious belifs, and come up with WHAT should be used as the Holy Text???

    The whole concept of swearing on some sort of Holy Text is an anachronism, I think … but still, IF you’re gonna do it, the RIGHT, CORRECT way to do it is to have the individual swearing do said swearing on THEIR OWN Holy Text, or else the entire concept is just pointless and meaningless. By insisting this guy HAS to swear on a Bible, righties are essentially making a mockery of the entire concept of swearing on a Bible. Is that really what they want to do, do you think?

    -me

  6. norbizness  •  Nov 28, 2006 @2:34 pm

    “We need to invade Capitol Hill, kill its leaders, and convert that one guy to Christianity.”

    BTW, my Holy Text is the March 1985 edition of Atari Age magazine.

  7. Paul  •  Nov 28, 2006 @2:37 pm

    Wow. That is a mind-blowingly stupid thing for Prager to be wound up about. An excellent example of appearance over substance, as well, since whatever solemnity and spiritual reinforcement comes from have someone swearing on a book is based on it being one he/she believes in. What a friggin’ loon.

    Does the fact that they are casting around looking for new outrages to complain about signify that their old causes celebres are losing their power? Or is it their outrage like a drug to which one builds up a tolerance, and must seek new thrills elsewhere?

  8. Snowwy  •  Nov 28, 2006 @3:21 pm

    Paul, embrace the power of “and”, my friend.

  9. PoliticalCritic  •  Nov 28, 2006 @3:46 pm

    Taking the oath on the Bible doesn’t make much sense, come to think of it. This country was founded because of religious persecution, yet an oath on the Bible dismisses all other religions. Perhaps the uber-patriotic, gay-bashing, Jesus freaks on the right will learn about tolerance some day, but I doubt it.

  10. Swami  •  Nov 28, 2006 @3:56 pm

    He can get sworn in on a Harry Potter novel for all the good it will do.

  11. Bill Arnold  •  Nov 28, 2006 @6:46 pm

    As an oath is not required – one must swear or affirm, Prager seems ignorant (when he wrote the piece, probably no longer 🙂 of the actual language of the Constitution. Affirmation was originally to accomodate quakers, but affirmation is permitted for anyone. Amusing factoid: Richard Nixon took the oath with two bibles for both his inaugerations: 69: “Two brown leather family Bibles, both open to Isaiah 2:4”, 73: “Two brown leather family Bibles, open to Isaiah 2:2-4”

    There have been suggestions that the oath should be on a copy of the constitution.

    I kept reading that piece looking for evidence of satire, but had to conclude that it was either satire indistinguishable from wingnuttery, or true wingnuttery.

  12. Doug Hughes  •  Nov 28, 2006 @7:02 pm

    It’s interesting to watch how a Christian flinches when you dispute the claim that the United States of American is a Christian country. Many countries are tied to a particular faith (Iraq & Iran for example, acknowlege in their Constitution Islam as the foundation of all civil law – look how they have turned out.)

    But the US is NOT Christian; non-christians have the SAME rights as the more popular theology. I have pointed out to Christians who want a Nativity scene on public property – They MUST allow other faiths EQUAL status. How do you feel about a Wiccan display celebrating Sahmain? If you want a Christian club at the local High School, you must allow and and ALL other religions the right to organize at your High School? If you are a conservative Christian who is offended by other religions, don’t inflict YOUR religion. You risk opening a Pandora’s box.

  13. Mike  •  Nov 28, 2006 @7:22 pm

    Dennis is doing exactly what he accuses the multiculturalists of doing: claiming that his culture trumps American culture. It is entirely American to swear on the book you beleive in. It’s been a while since I read the regs, but I bet the Boy Scouts of America officialy requires that a Muslim swear on a Koran rather than a Bible.

    There is another thing to consider: there is no “The Bible”. As a Catholic, I will not swear on a KJV.

    But I might swear on a copy of Rushdie’s Satanic Verses…

  14. Jose Chung  •  Nov 28, 2006 @8:49 pm

    America’s founders held Judeo-Christian values, not Muslim values. This is a Judeo-Christian country. If you can’t even show a modicum of respect for America’s heritage, by placing your hand on the bible while taking your oath of office, then, Dennis is right, don’t become a congressman.

    You don’t get to choose your own book. Not Portnoy’s Complaint, not Dianetics, not the collected philosphy of Hugh Hefner, and sorry, not even the Holy Koran.

  15. maha  •  Nov 28, 2006 @8:52 pm

    America’s founders held Judeo-Christian values

    Actually, they held Enlightenment values,which is why they established a SECULAR government.

    Why do you hate America, Jose?

  16. anonymoose  •  Nov 28, 2006 @9:35 pm

    The US is a PROTESTANT CHRISTIAN nation. Other religions are permitted only insofar as they acknowledge this fundamental fact of our national history. Any public official who swears himself in on anything other than the King James version of the Bible is automatically disqualified from holding office.

  17. maha  •  Nov 28, 2006 @10:05 pm

    Damn, that anonymoose is entertaining.

  18. Swami  •  Nov 28, 2006 @10:44 pm

    anonymooze, you need to go back and read about how our Constitution was ratified. We are a secular nation by choice and we wouldn’t have become a nation if religion had factored in to our nations birth. The religious authorities of that day understood that the only protections to their faith was a secular government. So we are a SECULAR nation..

    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9780805077766&itm=1

  19. r4d20  •  Nov 28, 2006 @10:45 pm

    This kind of reasoning is simply SAD.

    The whole concept of swearing on some sort of Holy Text is an anachronism,

    I disagree. The act of swearing “on” something comes from the old practice of cementing an oath with an promise to the Gods to sacrifice something held dear in the event of violating that oath – a logical and natural practice from when life was hard , reliable legal instutitions were non-existent, and people believed in Gods who would punish them for oathbreaking. Words are cheap, but when a believer agrees to place his soul on the line then I am more willing to take his word.

    By insisting this guy HAS to swear on a Bible, righties are essentially making a mockery of the entire concept of swearing on a Bible

    It depends on how you see it.

    We would probably agree that the KEY is that the thing being sworn on MUST be of signifance to the person making the oath. I would trust the oath of a muslim who swore on the Bible less than I would one who swore on the Quran because I know he’ll take the latter more seriously.

    To them, however, its much more…primitive: The Bible is the Holy Book of the True God, so swearing on it has significance, while the Quran is unholy book of a false idol, so swearing on it means nothing.

  20. r4d20  •  Nov 28, 2006 @10:46 pm

    Clarification: The SAD reasoning is coming from Prager, not the comments I chose to respond to.

  21. Doug Hughes  •  Nov 28, 2006 @11:05 pm

    anonymoose –

    Educate us. Where in the Constitution, The Bill of Rights, The Declaration of Independence, Supreme Court decisions is this supremacy of Protestant Christian values enshrined?

    We eagerly await your reply.

  22. ellenbrenna  •  Nov 29, 2006 @1:53 am

    Which part of “no religious test” is unclear to you guys? Really? Tolerance is part of the tradition it is written into the founding document it isn’t some sort of sinister McGovernite invention meant to undermine American civilization. It is American civilization.

  23. Randy  •  Dec 1, 2006 @10:55 am

    Apparently, it’s only a few hard-core loonies who are in a lather about this. The chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party has said that it’s a non-issue for him.

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