Friday, January 05, 2007

Tell Virgil Goode About Religion in America

Before I was a minister, before I became a sexuality educator, I wanted to be a Member of Congress. The only problem was that during my teen years there were hardly any women in Congress. My boyfriend at the time gave me a copy of a biography of Representative Shirley Chisholm that I devoured.

I thought about my teenage self when I watched Nancy Pelosi become the first woman Speaker of the House yesterday as the 110th Congress took office. I cheered for both her and the teenage girls across America watching her. Change is possible. Those who might question her fitness for this office because of her gender stayed silent on the nation's airwaves.

Not so for another first.

Yesterday, Representative Keith Ellison made history also. He became our country's first Muslim to join Congress. He took his unofficial oath of office with his hand on a Qur'an that had once belonged to Thomas Jefferson.

Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode objected, saying that he opposed this action, and that without punitive immigration reform, "there will be many more Muslims elected to office demanding the use of the Quran." Mr. Goode insinuated that having more Muslims in the United States would be a danger to our country.

I was pleased to be asked to be one of the first petition signers of a diverse group of religious leaders to reject Virgil Goode's bigotry and call on him to visit a local mosque and become better informed. That petition is now on the web, and people of faith are being asked to sign it. Please take a moment to add your voice.

We can become a more equitable world. The words from the Hebrew song "Bashanah" play in my mind:

"Soon the day will arrive, when we will be together...
Wait and see, wait and see
What a world there can be
If we share, if we care, you and me."

I hope you'll sign.

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