Qur'an Suit Justiciable, says N.C. Court of Appeals

Currently, in North Carolina, court witnesses and jurors have two choices: they may be sworn in on the Christian Bible, or they may affirm, using no religious text. When a Greensboro woman, Syidah Mateen, decided that she would like to swear her oath on the Qur'an, trouble brewed. More after the break.

Here are the facts:

When Ms. Mateen appeared as a witness, she requested that her oath to tell the truth be sworn on the holy text of her religious faith, the Quran. When her request was denied and because she would not swear on the Christian Bible, her options were to affirm without the use of a religious text or be denied the opportunity to testify. See N.C.R. Evid. 603 (2005) (“Before testifying, every witness shall be required to declare that he will testify truthfully, by oath or affirmation administered in a form calculated to awaken his conscience and impress his mind with his duty to do so.”). Ms. Mateen chose to affirm to tell the truth, and she now seeks a declaratory judgment determining whether, under N.C.G.S. § 11-2, she has the right to swear on her holy text, the Quran.

The decision of the Court of Appeals in this matter was delivered yesterday. In American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, Inc. and Mateen v. State of North Carolina, Chief Judge Martin wrote for the Court, concluding that a justiciable controversy existed between the State and a Muslim whose request to be sworn in using the Qur'an had been refused. Also implicated were Jewish members of the ACLU whose preference would be to swear an oath using the Old Testament.

The Court said:

Although it cannot be predicted exactly when or how much time will pass until a member of ACLU-NC who would prefer to swear on a holy text other than the Christian Bible is required to take an oath in court, there is sufficient practical certainty that such situation will occur. Accordingly, there is no impediment to litigation which would render litigation avoidable. Because litigation is unavoidable, the case is justiciable under the Declaratory Judgment Act, allowing ACLU-NC to obtain from the court an interpretation of N.C.G.S. § 11-2 and the rights of its members under the statute.

Now, the case will now go back to the trial court for it to decide on the merits whether the words the "Holy Scriptures" in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 11-2 should be interpreted to include not only the Christian Bible, but also other religious texts including the Qur'an and the Old Testament.

Good for the Court! I certainly consider this a step in the right direction.


Quaker take on Oaths

Quakers seem to always have very interesting takes on issues of the day:

Members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) ... have always objected to the oath for two reasons:

1. The teaching of Jesus, who said, "Don't use an oath at all ...Whatever you have to say let your 'Yes' be a plain 'Yes' and your 'No' be a plain 'No' - anything more than this has a taint of evil."
2. A special ceremony being imposed implies a double standard - that on this occasion one will speak the truth.

In Quakerism's early years, Friends suffered and were imprisoned for refusing to take the oath, and finally the right to affirm as an alternative was enacted, to accommodate their beliefs. Friends have always carefully guarded this hard-won right, indeed many Friends would say that even the words of the affirmation are superfluous and that a simple promise to tell the truth should be enough.

Ed Ridpath

Ed Ridpath

Mr. Ridpath, thanks.

I learned something new about Quakers.

would that

We all believed that.

Friends would say that even the words of the affirmation are superfluous and that a simple promise to tell the truth should be enough.

If that isnt noble then what is?


"Keep the Faith"

I certainly agree...

Hell, it would be difficult to count the number of members of Congress that have given their word...on the bible...to uphold their oath of office.
Then, they turn around and screw us. GW Bush is THE prime example. What we need is about 600 of those electrical dog collars...supercharged to fry ya on the spot...and have them swear on one of those.

Stan Bozarth