A few weeks ago, remember how we were all a buzz about Keith Ellison (D-MN) choosing to make his oath on the Koran as the first democratically-elected Muslim to sit in Congress? We all agreed it would be unconstitutional to prevent him from doing so (“no religious test,” Art. VI Sec. 3). Yet, something was deeply troubling about it even though we couldn’t quite put our finger on it.
Then, last Tuesday, this posting on the website of the North Carolina ACLU (here),
“A unanimous North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled this morning that the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) can proceed with its lawsuit, filed against the State in July 2005, which chal-lenges North Carolina state courts’ practice of refusing to allow people of non-Christian faiths to swear re-ligious oaths using any text other than the Christian Bible.”
The lawsuit filed by the ACLU-NC in July 2005 seeks a court order clarifying that North Carolina’s existing statute governing religious oaths is broad enough to allow the use of multiple religious texts in addition to the Christian Bible. In the alternative, if the Court does not agree that the phrase “Holy Scriptures” in the North Carolina state statute must be read to permit texts such as the Quran, the Hebrew Bible and the Bhagavad-Gita in addition to the Christian Bible, then the ACLU-NC asks the Court to strike down the practice of allowing the use of any religious texts in the administration of religious oaths.
This lawsuit asks the Court for an interpretation of the phrase “Holy Scriptures” that is broad enough to include multiple religious texts.