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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Constitution says we can’t keep Muslims out of office

U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., seems to think that the election of a Muslim to Congress represents something dangerous.

Constituents e-mailed him about Keith Ellison’s plan to take his unofficial oath of office on the Muslim holy book. Mr. Goode responded with a letter declaring that “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.”

Mr. Ellison, D-Minn., was elected to Congress on Nov. 7. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, a Chicago Democrat who is Jewish, describes him as “a good American with good values of a different faith who’s trying to do right by the people he represents.”

These are the criteria by which we should judge Mr. Ellison and other public officials. The U.S. Constitution says that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

It may seem unfair that the United States allows Muslims to participate freely in public life while many Muslim societies deny the same rights to people of other faiths. But in this country we believe that freedom of religion protects everybody, including those who are in the majority today but could become the minority in the future.

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