NC Judge Allows Muslims to Swear on Quran Instead of Bible

[FPN] – A Wake County judge has ruled that Muslims in North Carolina can now use the Quran in swearing their courtroom oaths. The lawsuit, which was filed by the ACLU of North Carolina, challenged a state policy which only allowed the Bible to be used for swearing oaths. The ACLU lawsuit aruged the policy was unconstitutional because it promoted Christianity over other religions.

Additionally, the ruling allows other religious texts, such as the Hindu Bhavagad Gita, to be sworn upon in the courtrooms of North Carolina. In his 18-page decision, Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway called on the state to treat all religions equally, writing: “The highest aim of every legal contest is the search for the truth. To require pious and faithful practitioners of religions other than Christianity to swear oaths in a form other than the form most meaningful to them would thwart the search for the truth. It would elevate form over substance.”

Family Policy Network President Joe Glover reacted to the ruling by saying, “If all world religions shared basic tenets like integrity and truthfulness, Judge Ridgeway’s decision would make sense; however, the Quran doesn’t hold honesty in the high regard that the Bible does.”

Glover says that while the judge’s reasoning may sound fair, most people don’t realize what the Quran actually has to say about lying to non-Muslims. “There are passages in the Quran teaching that it is okay to lie to non-Muslims. Since most judges and jurors are non-Muslims, it would be justifiable for a Muslim to lie under an oath sworn on a Quran. It’s unwise to compromise our system of law and justice for the sake of tolerance,” he said.

The original lawsuit was brought in 2005 by the North Carolina ACLU on behalf of a Muslim woman, Syidah Mateen, who was refused her request to swear her court oath on a Quran. A trial court judge dismissed the case in December 2005, ruling that the ACLU could not prove that the issue was controversial enough for judicial review. However, in January 2007 the state Court of Appeals unanimously voted to overturn the decision, which allowed the lawsuit to go to trial.

The North Carolina Attorney General’s office, which had originally asked Judge Ridgeway to dismiss the case, has 30 days to appeal the ruling. A spokeswoman for the state attorney general says the office has not yet made a decision on whether to pursue an appeal.

Read the court opinion (PDF)

Raleigh News-Observer

Greensboro News-Record

CBS News