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  Lawmaker to take oath on Koran, faces flak
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ContributorThomas Walker 
Last EditedThomas Walker  Dec 01, 2006 10:31am
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News DateFriday, December 1, 2006 04:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionRep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, will take his oath of office on the Koran, not the Bible.

Although some have criticized the Minnesota Democrat's decision, his campaign manager cites historical precedent in describing it as a nonissue.

"Well, he will be the first to do it with the Koran," Dave Colling said. "But most members do not even take an individual oath with any book. Keith Ellison will be taking his oath in the chamber with the other members of Congress."

House members are sworn in en masse in the chamber, and no Bible or other religious document is used for the oath. However, several incoming House members use Bibles for their individual swearing-in, which is administered by the House speaker and takes place after the official group oath.

Mr. Ellison has been criticized by some Christian organizations and conservative radio host Dennis Prager, who say that even if the law allows him to take an oath on the Koran, he should adhere to what they call the historical tradition of taking the oath of office on the Bible.

"In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath," Mr. Prager, who is Jewish, wrote in an online column.

The American Family Association (AFA) posted an "Action Alert" on its Web site requesting that supporters urge lawmakers to pass a law requiring that the Bible be used in congressional swearing-in ceremonies. "What book will America base its values on, the Bible or the Koran?" the AFA posting said.
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