110th Congress Includes First Muslim, Buddhists to Serve

When the 110th United States Congress took office yesterday, there were some notable additions.

  • Keith Ellison is the first Muslim to serve in Congress
  • Hank Johnson and Mazie Hirono are the first Buddhists to serve in Congress
  • We’ve heard a lot about Keith Ellison thanks to the Virgil Goode debauchle. But what about the Buddhists? Buddhism doesn’t have one holy book like the Bible or the Quran. (No, The Buddha Bible doesn’t count). There are many sacred scriptures in Buddhism, but no prevailing book. And even if there were, a Buddhist would not swear another part of his or her life by the writings of another. So what did Representatives Johnson and Hirono do?

    According to the New York Times’ Caucus Blog entry written before the swearing in, Johnson said he would elect to use the Bible for traditional purposes (very much like the way I celebrate Christmas), and Hirono mentioned that although she’d prefer to use no book at all, she may use a Bible as well.

    Are Johnson and Hirono the first openly Atheistic (non-god-believing) members of Congress? If so, they are obviously indifferent to things like swearing in on a Bible. Does this mean they also won’t stand up for the separation of church and state through issues like using the word “God” on money, state mottos, schools, pledges, etc.?

    Polls have shown that 60%* of Americans (including former fatty Star Jones) have said they would never vote for an Atheist for President of the United States. Would they vote for a Buddhist? Based on the fact that 43%* say they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon, probably not.

    * From Rasmussen Reports

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