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« RE: Sam Harris & Co. | Main | Another Strike against Humanity »

November 30, 2006

Re: So Help Me God

That's a fair analysis of the issue, Roberto, though I think it largely serves to underscore the changing American culture that the debate represents. The points you bring up are the reasons that I suspect I will, however reluctantly, side with the conclusions of Volokh, Bainbridge, et al.

It's a frustrating discussion, both on the emotional level and the constitutional one. I shiver to think that a member of Congress will be seeking Allah's aid in governing the nation -- my nation. But I also know that I could not, in good conscience, place my hand upon another scripture to take an oath.

Prager resolves this by suggesting that Ellison should be disqualified from service if he can't swear upon the Bible. This is an equally troubling concept, rebuking not just the new congressman but also the district in Minnesota that chose him. And the Constitution indeed provides no compulsion for making the oath with a hand upon the Scripture, though I don't know that the religious-test clause answers the question so definitively.

Again, the issue hinges upon the distinction between collective beliefs and individual beliefs, which are increasingly diverse. While I have no dispute that compelling people to adhere to even a small piece of a faith doctrine is dangerous, not to mention futile, it is still true that the country will administer its laws and justice under a broad system of thought -- even if this is only implicit, and even if it ends up being a pluralistic mess of ideas.

Roberto, you seem to imply that enduring such a philosophical melting pot would be worth the price in order to protect religious freedom, including for Christians. You may be right.

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