The Ellison Illustration

The recent story about the controversy over Rep. Keith Ellison’s swearing-in illustrates how the separation of church and state strengthens democracy.

The first good thing Ellison did for democracy was to run for office as a Muslim and win, becoming the first Muslim in the U.S. Congress. By so doing, he underlined the constitutional clause that "no religious test shall ever be required" for public office. (That is one of the constitutional provisions which "separation of church and state" neatly sums up.)

It seems that Rep. Virgil Goode and commentator Dennis Prager feared that Ellison would become a martyrdom-seeking bomber. In any event, they protested loudly when Ellison announced his intention to use the Quran when sworn in and that any book can be used as chosen by the representative.

The February issue of Church & State tells the happy conclusion of the story. Ellison was sworn in using the 250-year-old Quran owned by Thomas Jefferson, as great a champion for religious liberty as there ever was ("Muslim Congressman Takes Oath Of Office On Jefferson’s Quran," People & Events)!

—William Blakney
Auburn, Ala.