During his December 8 broadcast, Rosen said:
One of the reasons that traditionally people have taken oaths -- either serving as witnesses in trials or defendants, or being sworn in with the oath of office as president or a member of Congress -- one of the reasons people have put their hands on a, on the Judeo-Christian Bible -- which includes the Old Testament and the New -- is that this is one of the foundations of Western civilization, and it's also one of the foundational sources of our law. Moses was known as the lawgiver. The Ten Commandments have -- have had a great deal of influence over the creation of law in Western society. So it's consistent with that part of our society that qualifies as Caesar's element -- render unto Caesar what is Caesar's -- for people who serve in law-making and governing capacities to take an oath consistent with our foundation. For those who really believe that the Constitution is blasphemy, at least in parts when it conflicts with Islam -- these people have a right to their religious beliefs and they can operate in our society. But the question is, can they ethically and morally hold office?Rosen's mention of courtroom procedures, however, fails to recognize that the bible needn't be used to swear in witnesses in court proceedings. Last summer, when Muslims in North Carolina attempted to donate copies of the Quran for courtroom oaths (and were refused), the Christian Science Monitor wrote:
As to Rosen's mention of the Ten Commandments, a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper in 1814 casts doubt on this notion:
Already, witnesses in American courts do not have to take a religious oath and can instead simply testify on pain of perjury. It's up to judges to decide what passes for an oath.
Most have apparently given other oaths wide latitude. In a federal terrorism case in 1997 in Washington D.C., for instance, the judge allowed Muslim witnesses to swear to Allah. And the practice isn't new: Mochitura Hashimoto, the Japanese submarine commander who testified in the court martial of a US Navy captain in 1945, was allowed by a military tribunal to swear on his beliefs of Shinto, the ancient religion of Japan.
[I]n answer to Fortescue Aland's question why the ten commandments should not now be a part of the common law of England? we may say they are not because they never were made so by legislative authority, the document which has imposed that doubt on him being a manifest forgery.Further, Jefferson writes, British common law--which the American legal system is largely based upon--was established in England before Christianity arrived there:
...Christianity was not introduced till the seventh century; the conversion of the first Christian king of the Heptarchy having taken place about the year 598, and that of the last about 686. Here, then, was a space of two hundred years, during which the common law was in existence, and Christianity no part of it...."[Cross-posted at Minnesota Monitor.]