PRESIDENT ASKED TO RESCIND APPOINTMENT OF DENNIS PRAGER
Holocaust Museum council member said Quran oath ‘undermines American civilization’
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/6/06) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on President Bush to rescind the appointment of radio talk show host Dennis Prager to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council because of his intolerant views toward Islam in American society.
Earlier this week, CAIR urged the taxpayer-supported museum’s council to remove Prager because of a recent syndicated column in which he wrote that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, should be prevented from taking his oath of office using the Quran.
In his commentary, Prager wrote that swearing an oath on the Quran “undermines American civilization.” “Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible,” wrote Prager. “If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don’t serve in Congress.”
Prager also wrote that Ellison’s swearing on a Quran would “be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11.”
On Tuesday, the Holocaust Museum distanced itself from Prager’s views, but indicated that it did not have the power to remove him from the council. The museum’s statement said: “Talk show host Dennis Prager speaks solely for himself. His statements do not reflect the position of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, whose board is not self-appointed.”
A number of groups and commentators have rejected Prager’s views. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called his comments “intolerant, misinformed and downright un-American.” The New York Sun said today: “Mr. Prager is not only wrong but his comments are so outrageous and, by our lights, almost unbelievably ignorant.”
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism said in a statement: “The criticism by Dennis Prager of Rep. Keith Ellison’s use of the Koran for taking the oath of office is irreconcilable with American law and ideals as well as Jewish values and interests.”
President Bush recently appointed Prager to the governing board of the Holocaust Memorial Museum for the remainder of a five year term expiring January 15, 2011.
In a letter to President Bush, CAIR wrote:
“If put into practice, Mr. Prager’s exclusionary and intolerant views would permanently marginalize every minority faith in America and would violate the constitutional ban on a state-sponsored religion.
“By taking action to disassociate your administration from Prager’s remarks, you will send a positive message to all those in this country and worldwide who believe in religious diversity and mutual understanding.
“As a private citizen, Mr. Prager has the absolute right to hold whatever views he chooses, no matter how divisive or ill-informed. But as a presidential appointee to a taxpayer-funded institution, he must be held to a higher moral standard.
“We therefore respectfully request that you rescind your appointment of Dennis Prager to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.”
The U.S. Constitution states that “no religious test shall ever be required” to hold public office. No books of any kind are used in the actual swearing-in ceremony. Representatives may use any book they choose, or no book at all, during later ceremonial events.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org