A court hearing Tuesday could determine if the Bible will remain the exclusive text used in North Carolina for swearing-in court witnesses or whether other religious texts will be allowed.

Arguments were scheduled in Wake County Superior Court in a lawsuit challenging a state policy that allows only the Bible to be used in such court procedures. The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina and names Syidah Mateen, a Muslim woman who said she was denied the use of the Quran in court.

“This is an important issue that affects thousands of people of faith across North Carolina who are not of the Christian faith,” Seth Cohen, the ACLU’s lead counsel in the case, said in a written statement.

The lawsuit argues that state law is unconstitutional because it favors Christianity over other religions. It seeks a court order clarifying that the law is broad enough to allow the use of multiple religious texts, or else rule the statute unconstitutional.

Tuesday’s hearing is on the ACLU’s motion for summary judgment.

State law allows witnesses preparing to testify in court to take their oath in three ways: by laying a hand over “the Holy Scriptures,” by saying “so help me God” without the use of a religious book, or by an affirmation using no religious symbols.


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