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Let's Keep Religious Freedom for All
Congressman-elect deserves respect.

by Brooks Gardner
January 2, 2007

Dennis Prager - a radio talk show host - has gone on an attack of Congressman-elect Keith Elison which has led a Congressman from Virginia to lead the attack against Elison in Congress. Elison, a Muslim, has chosen to take his oath of office with his left hand on the Koran.

Congressman, Virgil H. Goode, Jr., of Virginia's Fifth District sent letters throughout his district after he received mail from constituents complaining about Elison's plan to take is oath of office on the Koran. Congressman Goode took this opportunity to lambast  Congressman Elison and to state his absolute dislike of the Koran and Muslims and to take the soap box for his campaign to change immigration laws of this nation.

I must agree with an editorial in a Roanoke newspaper which states Representative Goode missed a great opportunity to educate his constituency about the religious freedoms and the forbidding of the establishment of any religion guaranteed in the First Amendment of our Constitution, and he could of taught that Representative Elison had the right to choose the Koran for his taking of the oath.

By the way, no book is required for taking the oath of any office. It is a choice of the office holder.

Representative Goode could have said these things, but he didn't. He blew it! Instead, he chose to oppose Elison's use of the Koran. This is perhaps one of the most un-American positions that a Congressman can take. Goode has been called to task about his comments from members of his own party and the Speaker of the House-elect, Nancy Pelosi. He should apologize to Congressman-elect Elison. Elison was  elected by the people of his district and deserves the same respect as  any other Congressman.

Congressman Goode probably did not read President Bush's message to the Muslims which I quote here:

I send greetings to Muslims in the United States and around the world celebrating Eid al-Fitr.

Islam is a great faith that has transcended racial and ethnic divisions and brought hope and comfort to many people. Throughout Ramadan, Muslims have fasted to focus their minds on faith and to direct their hearts to charity. Eid al-Fitr marks the completion of this holy month with the Festival of Breaking the Fast. During this joyous celebration, Muslims thank God for his guidance and blessings by gathering with family and friends, sharing traditional foods, and showing compassion to those in need.

America is strengthened by the countless contributions of our Muslim citizens, and we value our ties with Muslim nations throughout the world. For people of all faiths, Eid al-Fitr is an opportunity to reflect on the values we share and the friendships that bind all who trace their faith back to God's call to Abraham.

Laura and I send our best wishes for a joyous Eid and for health, happiness, and prosperity in the year ahead. Eid Mubarak. [A phrase of greetings said among Muslims to congratulate each other on holidays. It literally means, "Blessed Festival!" The appropriate answer is, "Allah yubarak feek!" (May Allah bless it for you also!)]

Representative Goode's position on our immigration policies seem contrary to the words of Emma Lazurus in her sonnet: "The New Colossus."

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

"Give me your tired, your poor" are words in a beautiful anthem that I learned while in the high school glee club. These words to me are what we Americans are all about. We are not people who refuse to share our great, rich land. History has told us that immigrants are our very being.

About the Author:
My New Year's resolution is to show more respect for those who appear different to me and to appreciate their rights.

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