June 1, 2007 – New York – The American Jewish Committee has welcomed the ruling that witnesses and jurors sworn in at North Carolina courthouses can take their oath on the Koran or any other religious text.
“The court’s decision underscores the diversity of our society and helps foster religious liberty and the democratic values of pluralism and nondiscrimination,” said Jeffrey Sinensky, AJC’s general counsel.
Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway’s recent decision in Wake County, North Carolina follows a legal challenge by a Muslim American who argued that limiting the oath to the Bible favored Christianity over other religions and was unconstitutional.
“To require pious and faithful practitioners of religions other than Christianity to swear oaths in a form other than the form most meaningful to them would thwart the search for the truth. It would elevate form over substance,” wrote Judge Ridgeway in his decision.
Sinensky observed that “America is an increasingly multi-religious environment where citizens in their roles as witnesses and jurors in court proceedings must be free to take their oaths on the Holy Book of their choice, or none at all.”
AJC recently supported the right of Congressman Keith Ellison to use the Koran when taking the private, ceremonial oath of office that follows the official oath in the House of Representatives. Rep. Ellison’s choice to use the Koran at his personal swearing-in ceremony “celebrated the religious liberty embodied in our Constitution,” said AJC.