Friday, January 04, 2008

Free exercise

No, I am not talking about a promotion for the local gym. I am referring to the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

Paul Rolly takes us in the way back machine to 1997, shortly after the last Democrat was elected statewide, Attorney General Jan Graham.
Graham inquired about the apparently steroid-enhanced book to be used for the oath of office. Fox explained that it wasn't just any old Bible. It was a "Quadruple." He said it included the Bible, and three LDS scriptures: the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants.
Graham, an Episcopalian, said she was uncomfortable swearing on the LDS Scriptures and preferred a regular Bible. Inauguration staff seemed miffed, but they let her have her Bible.
The next day, at the inauguration, the four Republicans put their hands on a huge book to take their oath. The lone Democrat had her hand on what appeared to be a relatively skimpy Bible, perhaps a symbolic gesture of the party's status in Utah.
Rolly's wrong here. I think it is a emblematic of the problems that can stem from swearing an oath on a religious text-- it tends to tell everyone what your religion is--especially when yours if different than the majority.

US Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democratic Congressman from Minnesota, happens to be the first Muslim ever elected to national office. The official oath of office requires just a raising of the hand in the chamber, but when he asked to place his hand on the Koran for the ceremonial/photo-op swearing, all hell broke loose. Religious conservatives in America became especially upset. To his credit, Rep. Ellison shrugged off people's bigoted remarks and checked out Thomas Jefferson's copy of the Koran from the Library of Congress.

I say, the Constitution requires in two separate places (see Article VI) that folks like Graham and Ellison get to swear on whatever they want to as long as they affirm an oath to obey the constitution.

Can anyone tell me if this book is a Quadruple? If it isn't why isn't Leavitt swearing into the EPA on the same type of holy book as he did for Governor? Especially after we just learned that he held seminary meetings in the governor's mansion with staff.

P.S. I hope you got that free exercise title also had to do with the "relatively skinny bible" line. If not, now you do.


Bob said...

Actually, that's a triple combination, which contains the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.

Basically, it's a Quad without the Bible.


Wellington said...

I hate to hate, but that book is too thick to be a triple combination; it's simply a King James Bible.