Bible or Quran?
Today’s local front page featured an article on the use of religious/sacred texts in the swearing in of court witnesses and jurors. I thought it was progressive thinking on the part of the editor that the article was not an editorial opinion but rather an informative news piece.
My community is an average-sized, rural-type one with neighborhood schools and lots of small churches speckling its countryside. Ethnically, I’d say it is equally represented by White, African-American, and Native American individuals, the majority of whom are cradle citizens of the county. From a religious perspective, on the other hand, we are probably close to 80% Christian, 1% Jewish and 19% nothing. If there are any Muslims, Hindus, or Buddists living here, I’ve never met them. If there’s ever been a conflict in my community about the use of the Bible versus the Quran in district or superior court, I haven’t heard about it. And until today, I didn’t realize it was a big news item in NC.
Perhaps Wake Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway summed up a recent court decision best: “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.” (Greensboro News-Record)
Even in my small community (of mostly Christians), the symbols of truth are diverse. According to the article in today’s paper, no one in our local court system is required to swear on the Bible (or other sacred text) but can, instead, be “affirmed” to uphold the truth. In fact, from time to time I am “affirmed” before a district court judge to keep confidentiality as an observer of our local Teen Court program (not a “mock court” but a valid branch of our local judicial organization). The absence of the Bible in the affirmation process has never compromised my understanding of the truth or the oath itself.
Wonder how many readers jumped into the article thinking it was a juicy controversial topic…I have to confess a kink in my own curiosity when I saw the headline. But the title —Bible or Quran?—wasn’t meant to prompt an argument between Christians and Muslims. It was a invitation to participate in the truth and justice that keeps our community a peaceful one.
And that is worthy of front page news.