Thursday, December 28, 2006

Keith Ellison Speaks Out On His Muslim Faith and Politics

Minnesota Representative-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, spoke in Detroit yesterday to a group of Arab-American, Muslim, labor, and Catholic leaders at a meeting sponsored by Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength, MOSES, a Detroit faith-based coalition. Ellison, recently the subject of criticism by some columnists and politicians who objected to his plans to be sworn in to office using the Quran (see prior posting), made interesting and conciliatory comments about the role of his faith in his political decisions. Here are some excerpts as reported by the Detroit Free Press :

I'm not a religious leader, I've never led religious services of any kind. I'm not here to be a preacher, but in terms of political agenda items, my faith informs me....

I'm a little incredulous about why anyone would care about what I'm going to swear on. In fact, if I swore on a book that wasn't of my tradition ... would you trust me?

Many people see their religion as an identity thing, much in the same way Crips or Bloods might say, "I'm this, this is the set I'm rolling with". They've never actually tried to explore how religion should connect us, they're into how religion divides us. .... They haven't really explored ... how my faith connects me to you.