America, not Keith Ellison, decides what book a Congressman takes his oath on
Quran oath controversy of the
110th United States Congress
In mid-November 2006 it was reported that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress (for Minnesota‘s 5th congressional district), “will take his oath of office with his hand upon the Qur’an, the Islamic holy book“. In reaction to the news, conservative media pundit Dennis Prager criticized the decision in his November 28, 2006, column entitled “America, not Keith Ellison, decides what book a Congressman takes his oath on”.
The column attracted national attention from both Ellison and Prager supporters. Presented with the fact that all members of the House swear in (or affirm) en masse without the use of any religious text, and that such works are only used in ceremonial reenactments afterwards, Prager stated “that’s the whole point: it’s exactly because it’s ceremonial that it matters”. In response to a wave of criticism, Prager released another column on the topic on December 5, 2006, entitled “A response to my many critics—and a solution”. In that column, Prager repeated the inaccurate claim that no, or hardly any, officeholder in U.S. history had ever refused to take his oath on the Bible.
The controversy became more heated when Rep. Virgil Goode (R–VA) issued a letter to his constituents stating his view that Ellison’s decision to use the Qur’an is a threat to “the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America…[and] if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran”. Goode’s foray into the controversy caused many other members of Congress to weigh in.
Ellison went on to use the English translation of the Qur’an owned by Thomas Jefferson for the swearing-in ceremony.
Keith Maurice Ellison (born August 4, 1963) has been the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), the Minnesota state Democratic Party affiliate. The district centers on Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs. Ellison is a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a Chief Deputy Whip, and also serves on the House Committee on Financial Services.
Ellison was the first Muslim to be elected to the U.S. Congress, and along with André Carson of Indiana, is one of two Muslims now serving in Congress. He is also the first African American elected to the House from Minnesota. In November 2016, Ellison was widely reported to be in the running for chair of the Democratic National Committee, with the support of several senators and progressive groups.
André D. Carson (born October 16, 1974) is the U.S. Representative for Indiana’s 7th congressional district, serving since a special election in 2008. He is a member of the Democratic Party.
He is the grandson of his predecessor, former U.S. Representative Julia Carson (1938–2007). Carson is the second Muslim to be elected to the United States Congress, following Keith Ellison in 2006.
André Carson was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. At a young age, Carson’s interest in public service was shaped by his grandmother, the late Congresswoman Julia Carson. Carson grew up in a rough neighborhood, and he credits that experience for shaping his policy views on issues like education, public safety and economic opportunity.
Carson attended Indianapolis Public Schools and is a graduate of Arsenal Technical High School. He went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Management from Concordia University Wisconsin and a Master of Business Management from Indiana Wesleyan University.
Carson got his professional start as a law enforcement officer, serving as an investigator for the Indiana State Excise Police for nine years. He later joined the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and was detailed to an Intelligence Fusion Center, supervising an anti-terrorism unit.
Following his career in law enforcement, Carson was a marketing specialist for Cripe Architects + Engineers in Indianapolis.