What Should he Swear On?

It appears that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to congress, is also quite an effective politician. He wants to be sworn into congress holding a copy of the Qur’an, to which a number of “traditional” Christians have objected (on which more in a moment), and has chosen to do so on a copy previously owned by Thomas Jefferson. (Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars.)

I was commenting on this story to my wife and she said her first impression was that she would rather have the newly elected congressman swear his oath on a book he considers sacred thus giving it more weight. Her second thought was yet more interesting. “Didn’t Jesus say something about not swearing oaths?” So perhaps the most traditional Christians should go with “swear not at all.”

Again you have heard that it has been said by the ancients, “You shall not swear falsely, but you shall fulfill your oaths to the Lord.” But I say to you, “Don’t swear at all, neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne, nor by the earth, for it is his footstool, neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king, neither shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your word be clearly yes or no. Everything more than that is from the evil one.” — Matthew 5:33-37

So maybe the answer is: Nothing!

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  1. If I’m not mistaken, Quakers refuse to take oaths, including oaths of office. Maybe the “traditional” Christians could learn from their example.

  2. I read somewhere in all this brouhaha that Nixon actually swore his oath on multiple bibles, the proverbial “stack of bibles”.

    Yep, that worked.

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