Who is Dennis Prager? Yet another Republican shill who claims to favor "Judeo-Christian values". Even though Bush appointed him to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, I'd never heard of him until a few days ago, when be made his debut by announcing that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, must be sworn in on a bible, and that using a Qu'ran would "undermine American civilization" and be like using Hitler's Mein Kampf. What to say about this? For a start, parker is uniformed (an uninformed Bushite? you don't say!). It turns out that the swearing in ceremony involves neither bible nor Qu'ran nor Mein Kampf. Rather, the individuals simply raise their right hands and swear to uphold the constitution. Sometimes members use a bible for a ceremonial swearing in.
What has this to do with our old friend Bill Donohue? Well, as expected, he lost no time coming to the defense of his bigoted friend and displaying a shocking ignorance of the Catholic approach to religious freedom in the process. Here he is:
"The Bible is the constitutive source of the Judeo-Christian ethos upon which the U.S. was founded. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are products of Judeo-Christian civilization. As Prager said, Jews take their oath on the Bible, even though they do not believe in the New Testament. It's a matter of respect: it's a symbolic statement that pays due homage to our common heritage. Ergo, the same rule applies to everyone."The problem with many on the so-called Christian right is that they hold a notion of American exceptionalism, the idea that America (more than any other country) is divinely ordained. This flaw is most often associated with evangelicals, and (not for the first time) Donohue seems to take his cue from here rather than the Catholic Church he purports to defend. For he needs to take a close look at Vatican II's Declaration on Religious Freedom. Right up front, it states:
"This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits."And then there is this:
"The freedom or immunity from coercion in matters religious which is the endowment of persons as individuals is also to be recognized as their right when they act in community. "And this:
"..government is to see to it that equality of citizens before the law, which is itself an element of the common good, is never violated, whether openly or covertly, for religious reasons. Nor is there to be discrimination among citizens."Or this:
"The protection and promotion of the inviolable rights of man ranks among the essential duties of government. Therefore government is to assume the safeguard of the religious freedom of all its citizens, in an effective manner, by just laws and by other appropriate means."And then there is this:
"Finally, government is to see to it that equality of citizens before the law, which is itself an element of the common good, is never violated, whether openly or covertly, for religious reasons. Nor is there to be discrimination among citizens."Get the picture, Donohue?