A North Carolina judge rules that the state Constitution forbids witnesses swearing in with a hand on the Quran.
A North Carolina judge is won't allow swearing in using the Quran.
Here's the story in the News & Record.
The North Carolina 1777 Constitution apparently says that witnesses have to
either swear with a hand on the "Holy Scripture", or affirm the truth of their
In this judge's interpretation, the Quran does not count as Holy Scripture.
This is superficial exegesis at its worst. I'm sure that the authors of the
1777 Constitution were talking about the Christian Bible. I'm also sure that
allowing people to swear in with a book that somewhere around 1 billion people
in the world consider holy would be entirely consistent with the "spirit" of
Why do we have swearing in with holy books at all? In the court case in
question, the concern of the woman testifying was that the jury would judge her
in a negative light if she chose to just affirm the truth of her testimony
rather than swear on a holy book. It depends on the jury, of course, but her
concern seems quite reasonable to me.
One argument mentioned against allowing the Quran is that the court would then
have to allow other books that people say are holy as well. Without a standard
to judge what is holy, any book would have to be allowed. If I said Harry
Potter was holy to me, they'd have to let me swear on it.
But apparently, limiting it to just the Christian Bible does not open the door
to those possibilities. The clear implication is that the Christian Bible is
authentically religious in a way that the Quran and other books are not. You
can't make the slippery slope argument without having this premise --- a
premise that explicitly establishes an official religion.
The argument also begs the question of why we have the oath on the Holy
Scripture to begin with. What does it mean?
A charitable interpretation of this event would be that the judge is aiming to
force the legislature to confront the issue and change the law to remove any
doubt. I hope that's the case.