I guess you could call this the “dialogue” that Mr. Prager mentioned in his “Response to my critics – and a solution” which was his reply to critics of his original column “Multiculturalism run amok” wherein he charged that Congressman-elect Keith Ellison should “not be allowed” to proffer his oath of office over the religious text of his choice.
I sent the following email to Mr. Prager in order to encourage the dialogue of which he spoke. I invited him to either email back or respond in comments. If he emails, I’ll post his response here as well.
There are many things about your initial article with which I take issue and many things about your “response to your critics” with which I take issue, but the thing that stood out most clearly in my mind was this apparent contradiction:
In your first article, Regarding Mr. Ellison’s desire to use the Quran for his ceremonial “swearing in”, you stated unequivocally in paragraph two “He should not be allowed to do so”.
In paragraph 7 you state “So why are we allowing Keith Ellison to do what no other member of Congress has ever done…”
However, in your “response to critics” you say: “I am for no law to be passed to prevent Keith Ellison or anyone else from bringing any book he wants to his swearing-in, whether actual or ceremonial.”
I’m a little confused. How exactly do you propose that we “not allow” Keith Ellison to do this without a “law to be passed”? We should somehow just arbitrarily forbid the lawful actions of a free American through force or coercion for no other reason than because you say so? It seems to me that you are contradicting yourself here.
Mr. Ellison was duly elected by his constituents. If they do not support the decision to honor his chosen religion, they can express that by conducting a recall vote (if his state has provisions for such) or simply decline to re-elect him next time.
That was the main problem I had with your first column. You weren’t merely saying that you disagree with his actions, you were advocating that he be prevented from performing said actions. I have no problem with you holding or expressing the opinion that Mr. Ellison should VOLUNTARILY opt to follow tradition and use the Bible in his ceremonial swearing in, but you went a step beyond that and urged some undefined action to physically prevent him from exercising his religious freedom. That, I have a big problem with.
I am a Conservative Christian who spent 21 years in the US Navy. I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and dedicated a large portion of my life in the endeavor of upholding that oath. I never rescinded that oath, even when I “retired” (more accurately, transferred to the fleet reserve). I would, if necessary, give my life to defend the right of Mr. Ellison to practice the religion of his choice…especially when taking an oath of office. How you can seriously suggest that swearing an oath of office on a religious text to which one does not ascribe is NOT a “religious test” is a bit beyond me. Do you get equally worked up when congresspeople forgo said religious text altogether? Do you get offended when people refuse to add “so help me God” at the end of the oath?
Swearing the oath of office to God or on the bible is not the American tradition at all. Swearing (or affirming) the oath of office in accordance with one’s own moral and religious conscience is the American tradition…as it should be in a country that espouses religious freedom.
I will be posting this letter and any response I receive on my blog or you can simply go there and post a reply in the comments if you so desire. I eagerly await your “dialogue”.
Update: Apparently, I am not alone in my sentiment…even amongst Conservative Christians. of UNC-W agrees with me on this issue.
Update 2:I got an automated email response from Mr. Prager’s system telling me that he will “probably” read my email but most likely won’t respond because if he wrote a personal response to every email he receives, he wouldn’t have time to do anything else.
I am not holding my breath awaiting a response from him. I will just have to resign myself to the fact that Mr. Prager is simply wrong on this point. I seriously doubt that he could adequately address my concerns with his position. I believe his position to be untenable from both a legal (Constitutional) and moral standpoint…but I don’t expect he will ever acknowledge that.