Keith Ellison, who is the first Muslim elected to Congress, has angered some neoconservatives, who want him to swear on a Bible before he takes office.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." - Bill of Rights
Quakers, a group important in the formation of this country, have refused for generations to be 'sworn in' to office, opting instead to make an affirmation. Affirmations are guaranteed in the Constitution. At least two American presidents were affirmed, rather than sworn, into office. Four presidents have been inaugurated without even taking their oath on "America's holiest book." Franklin Pierce was affirmed, and swore no oath, Rutherford Hayes initially had a private ceremony with no Bible before his public ceremony, Theodore Roosevelt had no Bible at his ceremony, and Lyndon Johnson used a missal during his first term.
Despite Prager's insistence that "for all of American history, Jews elected to public office have taken their oath on the Bible, even though they do not believe in the New Testament," it is clear that he is wrong. Linda Lingle, Governor of Hawaii, took the oath of office on a Torah in 2001. Madeleine Kunin, a Jewish Immigrant and Governor of Vermont "rested her left hand on a stack of old prayer books that had belonged to her mother, grandparents, and great grandfather" as "a physical expression of the weight of Jewish history."