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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Congress must guard our religious freedom

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It would be possible to enjoy the irony if it hadn't been such a blight on our national reputation as a free nation.

Here comes Virgil Goode, a Republican member of Congress from Virginia, complaining that Keith Ellison, his new Muslim colleague in the House from Minnesota, has plans to use the Quran in his private oath-of-office ceremony.

The official swearing-in, the one that really counts, takes place with one hand raised and the other placed on no text of any kind. The use of religious texts are only for the private, ceremonial photo opportunity, where anyone can and should use any preferred text as his or her personal expression.

They're all swearing to uphold the U.S. Constitution, after all, the document that enshrines our right to individual religious expression.

What possible objection could anyone raise?

Goode further showcases his ignorance, observing that such displays of religious diversity will become common if Muslim immigration continues (never mind that Ellison is not an immigrant, anyway).

Many of the same people who rail against the alleged intolerance of Islam, attributing to it the evils of terrorist extremists, maintain that the proper response is that the dominant U.S. Judeo-Christian traditions practice intolerance.

Thankfully, some Republicans are stepping forward to denounce this stupidity. The president should join them.

Goode owes an apology to his constituents and to the rest of us. Here in Hawai'i, where religious diversity has always been the norm, this is especially evident.