Americans Believe in More Than One Book

ByABC News
December 4, 2006, 11:01 AM

Dec. 4, 2006— -- Americans, regardless of political party, are celebrating that the citizens of Minnesota's 5th Congressional District have chosen Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, an experienced state legislator to represent them in Congress.

Mr. Ellison campaigned on his qualifications and issues affecting human and civil rights, education, public safety, environmental justice, and economic development. Neither he nor the voters made an issue of the fact that he is a Muslim.

Unfortunately, some are attacking him based entirely on his religion. I'm saddened and angered -- but, unfortunately, not surprised -- by the turmoil touched off by Dennis Prager's self-righteous screed titled "America, Not Keith Ellison, Decides What Book a Congressman Takes His Oath On."

Upon hearing the news that Mr. Ellison will take his oath of office with his hand on the Koran, Mr. Prager said that this act "undermines American civilization," and that when a Congressman takes an oath of office, "America is interested in only one book, the Bible."

Obviously, Mr. Prager and those he has inflamed have little faith in American civilization and underestimate the American people. His seriously skewed view of religious liberty, tolerance and constitutionality shows a gross misunderstanding of our history, including the very principles upon which this nation was founded.

And most Americans are not interested in only one book. We passionately believe in religious freedom and we respect the beliefs of others as well as the sacred scriptures of all religions. If Mr. Prager has read only one book, I doubt if it was the Bible.

Maybe we should send Mr. Prager a copy of the Constitution. He could read about our first freedom, enshrined in the first words of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which guarantees freedom of belief for all Americans and ensures the separation of religion and government.

The Reverend Dr. C. Welton Gaddy is president of The Interfaith Alliance, host of State of Belief on Air America Radio, pastor of Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, Louisiana, and a member of the World Economic Forum's Council of 100 Leaders.