Saddening

My representative to the US Congress has made what I consider saddening remarks about another elected representative’s religious affiliation. In a reply to constituents’ messages about Representative-elect Keith Ellison planning to use a Koran to take the oath of office during a private ceremony, Representative Virgil Goode has expressed concern about muslims being elected to office. According to a copy of his correspondence that was posted on the Internet (and the story is all over the news), here is Mr. Goode’s view of the matter:

Thank you for your recent communication.

When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand.

I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.

We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country.

I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.

The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran. My response was clear, “As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.” Thank you again for your email and thoughts.

As a constituent, I wanted to write to Mr. Goode and express my concern about his remarks. I wanted to let Mr. Goode know that, reagrdless of whether an American is a christian, muslim, jew, hindu, buddhist, or even an atheist, an American should respect other people’s choice of religion.

I don’t want to hold Mr. Goode’s or anyone else’s religion against him. I wanted to remind him that more than 200 years ago a former resident of the area of Virginia that Mr. Goode represents was responsible for the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Thomas Jefferson promoted the idea in Virginia that “no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” Not only is this part of the heritage of Virginians such as Mr. Goode, but it is written into the United States’ Constitution.

However, I couldn’t remind Mr. Goode that religious freedom is fundamental to the consititution that Mr. Goode will swear to uphold. His office is not accepting e-mail messages at this time via the US House “write-rep” Web system; I got this message when I submitted the relevant data:

We will not be receiving emails again until Thursday January 4, 2007 at 9:00AM. If you need to contact Congressman Goode, you may fax him at 540-484-1459 or call 540-484-1254. These messages will be checked throughout this time period.

I’ll have to send a facsimile expressing my concern. I need to explain to Mr. Goode how saddening it is for me to have a person who’s supposed to represent me make un-American comments about others.

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Filed under Atheism, Civil rights, Free speech, Notes and comments

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