Friday, December 22, 2006

Should a Muslim be allowed to 'swear in' on the Koran to uphold a public office in the USA?

First Merry Christmas!

As to the question about swearing in on the Koran if you are Muslim, I personally do not have problem with that. Because, if a person doesn't believe in the Bible there isn't much 'force' to their 'vow' or 'oath' that they will uphold the responsibilities of their office just because they lay their hands on a 'book' and say some words.

Let me quote Prof. Scott Hahn from on the meaning of 'swearing an oath' on The Bible.

First, contracts involve promises, covenants involve oaths.
When you enter into a contract, say, to buy a house, you make a promise to the seller, along the lines of: "I give you my word that I will pay you this amount of money for your house." The seller, in turn, makes a promise: "I give you my word that if you pay me the sum we have agreed upon, I will turn over to you the deed to my house."

The "word" you each pledge to the other is your name. And you each sign your name on the contract as a "sign" that you'll uphold your end of the bargain or keep your promise.
Covenants are much different. In a covenant, you elevate and upgrade your promise. Not only do you give your word, you also swear an oath, invoke a higher authority - you call God in as your witness.

Think of the oath we're most familiar with, the oath you swear before taking the witness stand in a courtroom: "I promise to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God."
You've promised, given your word to tell the truth. You've also asked God to help you keep your promise. It's not only you and the judge now. It's you, the judge and God. Now, if you lie under oath, you're not only liable to go to jail, you're liable to be punished by God. The flip side of asking for God's help in an oath is surrendering yourself to God's judgment. You say, in effect, "I'll be damned if I don't tell the truth."

In the old days, we used to have politicians swear on the Bible and the Bible would be opened to the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 28, where the blessings and the curses are recorded. We were asking them to swear to uphold the constitution or suffer the curses recorded in those pages.

Even in our highly secularized society, we retain elements of this older understanding of oaths. We make doctors, police officers, military personnel and public officials swear oaths. Why? Because we depend on them; we literally put our lives in their hands. We want them to swear to God that they'll do their jobs. We can't just take their word for it, we want them to know that they'll have to answer to a higher authority.

Incidentally, did you know that the word "oath" translates the Latin word sacramentum, where we get our word "sacraments"? In a future course, we'll look sacraments as oaths. But for now, just keep in mind, as we mentioned earlier, that the notion of covenant and oaths is crucial to understanding the sacraments and our relationship with God.

Literally when a Christian lays their hands on the Bible and swears to uphold their office or 'tell the truth, so help me God', they are saying that if they tell the truth, by God's Hand they will receive all the blessings contained in the Bible or the reverse is also true. They are saying that if they lie, all the curses contained in the Bible will come upon them.

A heady thought when understood properly.

My problem isn't with the Koran.
But I pose a further question, if we allow the Koran, then we would have to cater to every possible group. For example, The Book of Mormon for Mormons or let's get right to the nitty gritty... perhaps we would have someone who believes in Satan who wants to swear in on a Book of Rituals for Satanic practices.

In a case like that, you would have someone promising to ... what? To cause chaos and disruption at every chance... perhaps. Then where would a nation founded on Christian principles be?

I submit that it is dilemma. Maybe we could have an "approved list" of books allowed.

I am wishing for you this day a Happy Christmas!
I wish you laughter, pure joy, a merry heart and a clear conscience!