By now all of you would have heard about the first Australian front bencher being sworn in, using a Koran instead of the Bible. Ed Husic, a Labor MP from western Sydney was appointed a Parliamentary Secretary this week, and swore his oath on his father’s Koran with Governor-General Quentin Bryce.
This caused no small stir. As one news report said, “Anonymous internet trolls attacked Mr Husic, the Australian-born son of Bosnian immigrants, on his Facebook page. ‘You have created history of the worst order, to swear in on a Koran!! This is Australia with Australian Laws,’ said one poster calling herself Dinki Di Sheila. ‘Swore to serve Australia using the same book terrorists do to serve al-Qa’ida . . . Disgusting,’ said another.”
In another article we find this: “Some called it un-Australian and unconstitutional. ‘Our allegiance should have been to Queen and Country first Ed. That means saying the oath on the holy bible not the Koran…. Shame, Shame, Shame,’ posted one user, Ross Peace. ‘I am so disappointed in this government that they don’t have the spine to stand up for the Australian way of life’.”
So what are we to make of all this? Let me suggest three things which can be said.
One. This is not the first time this has happened. Overseas we have seen similar things occurring. For example, in November 2006, Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota who was the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, declined to take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the Koran instead.
This too caused a major controversy. Jewish commentator Dennis Prager weighed in pretty heavily on this: “What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.
“Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison’s favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don’t serve in Congress. In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath.
“Devotees of multiculturalism and political correctness who do not see how damaging to the fabric of American civilization it is to allow Ellison to choose his own book need only imagine a racist elected to Congress. Would they allow him to choose Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf,’ the Nazis’ bible, for his oath? And if not, why not? On what grounds will those defending Ellison’s right to choose his favorite book deny that same right to a racist who is elected to public office?
“Of course, Ellison’s defenders argue that Ellison is merely being honest; since he believes in the Koran and not in the Bible, he should be allowed, even encouraged, to put his hand on the book he believes in. But for all of American history, 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.
“Yet those secular officials did not demand to take their oaths of office on, say, the collected works of Voltaire or on a volume of New York Times editorials, writings far more significant to some liberal members of Congress than the Bible. Nor has one Mormon official demanded to put his hand on the Book of Mormon. And it is hard to imagine a scientologist being allowed to take his oath of office on a copy of ‘Dianetics’ by L. Ron Hubbard.”
Two. It is not required to swear an oath with a hand on the Bible. Indeed, Kevin Rudd refused to use a Bible for his swearing in, and atheist Julia Gillard gave the oath a miss, choosing instead to go with a non-religious ‘affirmation of office’. So Husic could simply have declined to use a Bible as well. There was no need or requirement for him to bring in a Koran.
Three. The issue really is not so much about a Muslim MP versus non-Muslim MPs, as about the Bible versus the Koran. The Bible has an historical place in Australia and the West for very good reason. It is in large measure due to the Judeo-Christian worldview that the West even exists.
Yes ancient Greece played a role in the formation of Western values such as democracy, but only to a limited extent. As Rodney Stark wrote in The Victory of Reason: “While the classical world did provide examples of democracy, these were not rooted in any general assumptions concerning equality beyond an equality of the elite. Even when they were ruled by elected bodies, the various Greek city-states and Rome were sustained by large numbers of slaves. And just as it was Christianity that eliminated the institution of slavery inherited from Greece and Rome, so too does Western democracy owe its essential intellectual origins and legitimacy to Christian ideals, not to any Greco-Roman legacy. It all began with the New Testament.”
Primarily it is the worldview of the Bible that gave rise to all the great achievements, institutions and documents of the West, such as the Magna Carta, the US Constitution, the rule of law, the value of the individual, the separation of powers, and so on. It certainly was not the Koran which helped bring about Western civilisation.
Australia is what it is because of the Bible, not the Koran. So to allow a Koran to be used instead of the Bible means that we are not only dismissing the very heritage and foundation of who we are, but we are affirming and endorsing a book which is inimical to our very values.
I cannot go into it here, but the Koran is not a book one would go to to learn about such things as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the separation of church and state. All that and more can be gleaned from the Bible (both Jewish and Christian) but it cannot be derived from the Koran.
Thus this whole affair could have been defused by Husic using a bit of common sense and respect for this country, and simply declining to use the Bible, as his Labor mates Kevin and Julia did. But by insisting on dragging a Koran into all this, we have another case of creeping sharia and stealth jihad.
And it does not matter how much the media claims that Husic is a non-practicing Muslim. As he said recently, “I often get told that I describe myself as non-practising when in actual fact I don’t go round saying that. Like I just say ‘I’m Muslim.’.”
Fine, let him be a nominal Muslim MP. But things will not stop there. What happens when a more devout Muslim gets elected? What if he starts making other demands, such as only having halal food and drink served in the parliament, or demanding time off for Ramadan, or insisting that women MPs be separated from the men?
Don’t laugh, this is happening all over Australia already, so it is just a matter of time before it happens in our parliaments. For this and other reasons, it was a bad idea for Husic to bring in his Koran. That fact that it is his dad’s Koran must mean that he does not read it anyway. So why did he even bother? Australia, be forewarned.