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Ellison’s Oath

As the debate rages over Rep.-elect Keith Ellison’s decison to take his oath of office over the Koran, instead of the Bible – Ellison will be the first Muslim to serve in the U.S. Congress – it is worth noting that Jewish elected officials have insisted on using the Tanakh, or Hebrew Bible, for swearing-in ceremonies.

Dennis Prager’s column earlier this week asserted the contrary: “Jews elected to public office have taken their oath on the Bible, even though they do not believe in the New Testament, and the many secular elected officials have not believed in the Old Testament either.”

In a statement released by the Anti-Defamation League today, the group points out that Prager is also misinformed on the broader facts of swearing-in ceremonies:

“No Member of Congress is officially sworn in with a Bible. Under House rules, the official swearing-in ceremony is done in the House chambers, with the Speaker of the House administering the oath of office en masse. No Bibles or other holy books are used at all. Members may, if they choose, also have a private ceremony with family and friends. At these unofficial ceremonies, Members frequently solemnize the event by taking an oath while holding a personal family Bible.”




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