Monday, January 01, 2007


Philadelphia Inquirer - 01/01/2007 - Muslim in Congress? Framers of Constitution would approve.

My thanks to Dark Christianity for this link.

"It is interesting to consider what the founders of our Constitution might have said about the election of Keith Ellison to Congress, the first Muslim to hold such a position.

"Ellison, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, was elected in November to fill the vacant seat for Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District in the House of Representatives.

"One might imagine that talk-show radio host Dennis Prager and outspoken Rep. Virgil Goode (R., Va.), who have been waxing hysterical about the prospect of Muslims in high office, might have the framers of our Constitution on their side. Or one might imagine that the framers never considered that possibility, never spoke one way or the other about Muslim officeholders.

"The truth is more interesting. It turns out that our constitutional founders explicitly considered the possibility of Muslim officeholders - and explicitly welcomed it.

"Some early opponents of the Constitution attacked it for Article VI, which prohibits religious tests for national office, precisely on the ground that it made room for Muslims to become lawmakers. Defenders of the Constitution, however, argued that this was a good thing, not something to be feared.

"The issue came up most directly in the North Carolina ratifying convention of 1788. One speaker asked whether the absence of religious tests might allow "Pagans, Deists, and Mahometans [to] come among us." To which James Iredell, a fervent supporter of the Constitution and later a Supreme Court justice, replied: "How is it possible to exclude any set of men" from office, "without taking away that principle of religious freedom which we ourselves so warmly contend for?"

"Elsewhere, a newspaper article complained that the Constitution could lead to "Mahometans, who ridicule the doctrine of the Trinity" becoming our lawmakers - along with "Quakers, who... make the blacks saucy," and Jews, who might order Americans to rebuild Jerusalem. (One anti-constitutional pamphleteer raised the specter of the pope becoming president.)

"The Constitution's defenders, including a number of Christian ministers, responded to such attacks by stressing how important it is that religion not derive its strength from temporal authority, as well as how dangerous it is for politics to call in the aid of religion. James Madison insisted that any law favoring one religious group over others "degrades from the equal rank of Citizens all those whose opinions in Religion do not bend to those of the Legislative authority."

So the next time you hear that wearisome refrain: "This country was founded as a Christian nation," take this out of your notes, and belt them with it.

And that, dear readers, is my nickel's worth. Spend it as you please.

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HairlessMonkeyDK said...

Ah, Uncy, I have done so many times in the past.
But it is useless.
Telling fundamentalists the truth does not convince them.
PROVING that you are telling the truth only sends them off in the diametrically opposite direction to try to spin an alternate reality through less-than-pseudo-science(Discovery Institute).
Ignorance, I agree, is a surmountable goal.
The willful kind?
Not so much.

Krystalline Apostate said...

True enough, but if there's a chance of getting thru the myopic miasma of misinformation, however slim, I'll take it.

Mesoforte said...

"This country was founded as a Christian nation," take this out of your notes, and belt them with it.

I prefer a whip. ^_^

Fundies really don't like being told their wrong about US History, and they usually stop listening after you start saying something they don't like.

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

"the myopic miasma of misinformation"

Even better than Pat Buchanan's old : "The nattering Nabobs of Negativism".