Jeffersonian principles

The other day when our new Congress was sworn in, among the many was Keith Ellison a Democrat from Minnesota, our first elected Muslim Congressman.

Despite protests from proponents of the founding principles of the country (such as Virgil Goode, a Republican from Virginia) that this was a sure sign that we must tighten our immigration policies (although Ellison was born in Detroit, and converted to Islam in college) so that a swarm of Muslims wouldn’t try to follow his example and take over the country from within (my words, but seriously, has the man been reading Robert Ferrigno?) Rep. Ellison was sworn in, not with a Bible, but with the Qur’an.

And not just any Qur’an, but a 1764 English translation that was once the property of Thomas Jefferson.

This is a great country. I think Jefferson would be proud.

And Minnesota should be even prouder.

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  1. Isis on January 6, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Hi Laurie,

    Proud indeed: great post.

    And I just wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed your Kate Martinelli novels. A friend recommended A GRAVE TALENT to me over the summer, and I LOVED it. One thing I found very impressive was the way you kept language about Lee gender-neutral until you were (or, really, Kate was) ready to expose their orientation. Not to mention that the treatment of Kate and Lee is fab, and the stories keep me riveted. I was so excited to learn today that there is a new installment. I can’t wait.

    Also, the person who advocated warning labels on your books obviously needs their world expanded. Does everything a person reads need to confirm their prejudices? Don’t get me started about reading as a way to think more, not less!

    So just to say, keep up the good work, in the books and here on the web!

  2. Erika on January 7, 2007 at 4:47 am

    I shared this post with my friend from MN, it was news to her (as she doesn’t much follow politics) and she was surprised and happy. I, for one, was not aware that this man was the first of his kind. This sort of thing is always encouraging, especially when the opposition finds themselves without a leg to stand on.

  3. Anonymous on January 7, 2007 at 5:05 am

    Amen to the post!

    Brava for Art of Detection, which I just received as a gift!

    For me, there’s a link between the real swearing-in and the fictional series about a cop who happens to be gay, and it’s this:

    Any God real enough to bother about sees beyond our differences and loves all that S/he has created. All people of faith who act from goodwill are working toward that God.

    With that premise, the swearing-in of an Islamic legislator is a joy to my Christian soul and the fictional Kate and my real-life gblt brothers and sisters are a blessing to me–because the more we can accept others as they are, the more we can be our true selves.

    Most of what I see in the world does not follow this logic, and I have my own lingering prejudices to face. Still, I believe this.

    Best wishes for the new year. The challenges are obvious; may there be unexpected joys.


  4. Justyna "Vilian" Chodzinska on January 8, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Hello and greetings from Poland !
    I’m sorry my comment doesn’t really have anything in common with your blog entry, but just wanted to wave hello and say that I’m completely crazy over your Russell stories ! Felt in love with “Beekeeper’s Apprentice” just before Christmas, immediately after reading the book (borrowed from the library) and I was devastated when learned that it’s a first part in a series, and it’s the only one ever translated to Polish (actually the only of your all books, are our publishers blind or something ?), and on top of that it’s been out of stock for 5 years already. Thanks to generosity of my friends I’m now a happy owner of a second-hand copy of “Beekeeper’s…” in Polish (was very hard to find), and a shiny new “A Monstrous Regiment of Women” in English (Amazon UK charges a lot for shipping to Poland but that’s what gift certificates are for, to make oneself a gift thanks to someone else’s thoughtfulness and care). What was I saying ? Ah yes – INCREDIBLE ! And surprising too, last two pages of Chapter 21 left me in shock for a while – I’d never suspect Holmes being crazy over Russell’s body. Her mental features perhaps, her mind being too similar to his own, but not necessarily coming down to her physical attitudes 😉 But that was very good, and very believeable, and sooo sweet 🙂
    Anyway, that was the last drop, and now I’m desperate to put my greedy paws on rest of the series, and I do hope we’ll see ninth Russell story this year, I really do !
    Thank you again for a great pleasure of reading something with a great thrilling plot, awesome characters, and an uncommon romance too, all the best from mystery genre in one. I’m looking forward to everything of Russell/Holmes series I can ever get (fingers crossed), and best of luck to you on creating more. Yay !

  5. Antigonos on January 8, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    I was quite amazed when this story first broke, because it made me wonder not only if Joe Lieberman had sworn on a Bible containing the New Testament, but on what sacred book a Buddhist or Hindu would be required to swear.
    And that led me to thinking about what a Quaker elected to Congress would do, since he/she does not swear oaths at all, and lastly, isn’t this really an infringement of the Constitution by instituting “an establishment of religion”? Would a declared atheist be deprived of his elected seat, or would he swear an oath on a book that was meaningless to him?

  6. 2maple on January 8, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    When I heard of this, I thought Keith Ellison made a brilliant move – connecting the “founding fathers” and the concept of freedom of religion.

    Note there is a huge difference between:

    freedom of religion (meaning being free make the choice of how you choose to worship or not) v.
    freedom from religion (meaning that no religious elements can be publically included in any other part of society outside of religious worship)

    This is a huge difference. I don’t think this was how the founding fathers ever intended it to be. Personally, I think today’s society has taken the latter way too far. How can you learn to understand other religions if all elements of it are “erased” from society?

  7. Anonymous on January 8, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    I couldn’t figure out why the VA congressman was so upset. If the principle is that by placing one’s hand on a holy book makes the swearing-in-statement more serious/binding/important, then it would only make sense that the book should be one the person being sworn in considers holy. That would be the Quran in this case.

    If you saw the movie Fried Green Tomatoes (I think that is an abbreviated title), you may recall that a minister, when testifying in court, is asked to swear on the courtroom’s Bible that he will tell the truth, etc. He announces that he brought his own, and swears on it. In fact, the book is not a Bible, which allows him to not tell the truth.

  8. Anonymous on January 8, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    In point of fact it is NOT required to swear ON any book. It is merely a custom or choice of the Congressperson to do so. Nowhere in the Constitution does it require an oath on a book of faith.

  9. Anonymous on January 8, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    In connection with this particular matter, I read that the official swearing-in does not use any book. Reps and Senators apparently also have private, individual ceremonies, and those are the one’s using Bibles, etc.

  10. Mousie on January 9, 2007 at 12:37 am

    I applaud the congressman’s sticking to his beliefs, however, shouldn’t everyone be swearing in on the Constitution? It is what they’re all supposed to be governing by and protecting and all that. . .

  11. CalifSherry on January 9, 2007 at 4:42 am

    I heard Keith Ellison on the radio yesterday; he sounds like a great addition to the House. That said, THANK YOU for the story within the story in The Art of Detection. I am reading your books nearly as fast as you are publishing, enjoy living in the worlds you create and love the way you integrated your writing about Holmes with your writing about Martinelli. The final note in the postscript actually gave me chills…

  12. Belizegial on January 10, 2007 at 3:10 am

    Hello Laurie,

    I stumbled onto your Mutterings blog after googling the name Laurie. Intent on finding another Laurie whose weblink I had lost when her main blogsite was turned off, I found you instead.

    Not to lose the thread, I posted your link on my blog to allow me to come back in to read the rest of your posts. Your Bambi ‘splayed out’ imagery made me laugh and this made me feel better. 2006 was an accumulation of ‘you know what’ for me and I was feeling rather like Bambi at that very moment. The Point System made sense and I am cutting myself some slack for 2007. Thanks for your thoughtful writings.


  13. Anonymous on January 13, 2007 at 12:16 am

    hey folks,
    not that a muslim in congress is a bad thing, it isn’t. I don’t know the politics of the gentleman from minnesota. still, a close look at the internal politics of the nederlands of the last two decades will show that it is possible for a liberal and welcoming country to be ” taken over from within” by an influx of fundamentalists searching freedom for themselves, but willing to limit the freedoms of others.

    let’s be careful as we welcome diversity, to not be blind to possibilities allowed by the differing belief systems of those whom we welcome.

    we can only extend to others the right to their beliefs, if their beliefs do not require them to denounce our right to be diverse in our beliefs.

    it seems naieve to welcome an individual solely because of his religious preferences.


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