Target: Pennsylvania State Senator and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Stewart J. Greenleaf
Goal: Let Muslims and other non-Christian religious people swear oaths on Qur’ans and other respective holy books before testifying in a court of law.
Muslims and other people in Pennsylvania are forced to swear on the Christian Bible or a make a non-religious declaration before testifying in court, despite the fact that many other states let people swear on whatever holy text they abide by. This is discriminatory and an example of Christian favoritism. Demand that legislators in the Pennsylvania State Senate introduce a proposal to make it legal for people to swear the oath on holy books other than the Christian Bible.
While the United States for many years may have been considered (however wrongfully) a “Christian Nation,” such a reductive view of religion in America is more unacceptable now than ever before. Religious pluralism in the country is greater now than it ever has been. State laws and statutes that may have gone unexamined in the past for their assumption of Christianity as the default religion of Americans are, especially now, not appropriate. Pennsylvania’s statute is one such law. To only give citizens the choice between swearing a Christian oath or a secular oath is discriminatory and effectively erases the religious identities of non-Christian Pennsylvanians.
As a country, we need to put in the effort to make sure people of all religions are accepted and welcomed. Sign the petition below to ensure that Pennsylvania does this by letting Muslims, and other non-Christian religious people, swear on their respective holy books.
Dear Senator Greenleaf,
I am writing you about an issue with your state’s judicial processes that has, recently, received national scrutiny. I am referring to, of course, your state only giving people who swear the oath before testifying in a court of law the option of doing so on the Christian Bible or through a secular declaration.
This is, obviously, problematic. By making the Christian Bible the only holy text Pennsylvanians can swear on, your state is effectively saying that Christianity is more legitimate than any other religion practiced in your state. This is in stark contrast to the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Indeed, the Pennsylvania statute that enforces this misguided rule is now being challenged by a Muslim woman who feels that not being allowed to swear on a Qur’an when she appeared in court to give testimony violated her religious rights.
As the chair of the Judiciary Committee, the responsibility to get the ball rolling on rectifying this issue falls on you. I demand that you introduce legislation to amend your state’s law to allow people to swear on holy texts besides the Christian Bible.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Dyolf77 via Wikimedia Commons