PASCRELL OFFENDED BY REP GOODE’S ANTI-MUSLIM REMARKS
Contact: Caley Gray (202) 468-3081
For Immediate Release
PATERSON- U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) today sent the following correspondence to U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA-05) expressing his disappointment in ethnically offensive remarks the Congressman wrote about the use of the Koran in U.S. Representative-elect Keith Ellison’s unofficial swearing-in ceremony to the House of Representatives. Pascrell also expressed alarm in Congressman Goode wrongfully equating the issue of immigration with a fear of Muslim integration in our society.
December 20, 2006
Rep. Virgil Goode
1520 Longworth Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congressman Goode:
I was greatly disappointed and in fact startled by your recent constituent letter addressing the issue of Representative-elect Keith Ellison using a Koran for his swearing-in ceremony. The United States Constitution is clear on this issue when its states in Article VI, section 3: “…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Furthermore, as a returning Member of Congress you know that the official swearing-in for new Members of Congress is done without use of any religious text. The use of any text including a Bible, Torah or Koran is done only in a ceremonial event after the Member has already taken an official oath of office. I have had the pleasure to meet Keith Ellison on a number of occasions and it is clear that his integrity and values will make him an outstanding Member of Congress for many years to come. Keith Ellison serves as a great example of Muslim-Americans in our nation and he does not have to answer to you, to me or anyone else in regards to questions about his faith.
Your letter also wrongfully equates the issue of immigration with a fear of Muslim integration in our society. I take your remarks as personally offensive to the large community of Muslim-Americans I represent in the Eighth District of New Jersey. I have learned a great deal from the Muslim community and have made it one of my priorities to educate other Americans about the common misconceptions regarding the peaceful faith of Islam. There are many valid policy questions regarding immigration that should be addressed by Congress, however promoting a fear and disrespect of Muslims is not only wrongheaded, but it is reckless. Muslim-Americans do not threaten our American values and traditions, in fact they only add to them. The State of Virginia has a large vibrant Muslim population and I would hope you would take this opportunity to meet with that community and learn to dispel misconceptions instead of promoting them.
Please accept my comments in good faith. Together I know we are committed to fighting extremism. Virgil, I trust that our “fight” will not be confused or misdirected to discriminate against any race, religion or ethnicity.
Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress