Wednesday, January 03, 2007

An Open Letter to Congressman Goode

To the Honorable Virgil Goode, member of Congress, greetings,

I wonder, sir: have you, a Virginian, read the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom? It was written by Thomas Jefferson, who was born in what is now your own 5th Congressional District. You, as a Virginian, surely must have heard of it. You graduated from law school at the University of Virginia, which Jefferson founded, and served in the Virginia Commonwealth Senate. I assume you have read Virginia’s governing documents.

The statute reads in part:

“the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right.”

Clearly, sir, your recent attack upon Congressman Keith Ellison’s decision to use a Koran for his swearing in ceremony, is just such a proscription. You have said that only a bible should be used for the private swearing in (which as you know is not even the official oath, which is administered without a bible or book of any kind). Clearly this directly contradicts Jefferson’s position.

So I ask you, Sir, was Jefferson wrong?

Did you object when Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is Jewish, swore on the Old Testament? If you did I did not hear about it. Your comments make it seem that your real concern is that Congressman Ellison is Muslim. This also is contradictory to Jeffersonian principles, not to mention Article IV and the First Amendment to the Constitution. What, by the way, should the two Buddhists just elected to Congress swear upon? I’m just asking here. And while we are at it, how can you, as a Christian, ask that someone foreswear himself? That is, after all, what you are demanding. The Bible, the Christian Bible, insists that persons not swear false oaths, yet by asking Congressman Ellison to swear on a Bible instead of a Koran you are asking him to do exactly that. I assume that you would have condemned John Quincy Adams for swearing upon a copy of the constitution, and what of Roosevelt refusing to use any book at all?

Examples such as these is why we have religious freedom enshrined in our constitution and in the governing documents of Virginia. Jefferson said a great deal on religious freedom. He said that no one should vote for a person based upon their religious beliefs, yet you raise the specter of Muslims being elected to congress as though it is an attack on our nation. He said that no elected official should profess his or her religion, especially in matters of policy, yet you proclaim yourself to be Christian and a champion of Christianity and encourage people to vote for you for this reason.

As the political heir to Jefferson I must ask you again, sir, was Jefferson wrong?

That Congressman Ellison is going to take the oath of office on a Koran that was once owned by Jefferson himself only serves to point up how completely your own position is at enmity with that of Virginia’s greatest statesman. Knowing that you represent the Virginia and indeed the county of his birth, Jefferson must be spinning in his grave.

Sic Sempre Tryanus



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