25 March 2007

Congressional Diversity

Here's one that nearly slipped by us. While certain folks were in an uproar over the first Muslim in the US Congress and the Jefferson Koran he used at his swearing-in ceremony, they may have missed other significant changes in the makeup of the US Congress. Along with Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the new Congress includes two Buddhists an a "nontheist."

The two Buddhists are Reps. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. Read more about Hirono, the daughter of poor Japanese immigrants, here. On the issue of faith diversity, Hirono says "It's about time that we have people of other backgrounds and faiths in Congress ... what happened to separation of church and state and religious tolerance? I believe in those things." Well amen. Or, um, you know. Om.

The "nontheist" isn't new to Congress. Rep. Pete Stark of California is 75 years old and is now in his 18th term representing San Francisco’s East Bay. According to an Associated Press story, he issued a brief statement confirming that “I am a Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being.”

Of course, many politicians express their belief in Judeo-Christian values, and their affiliation with a church, but act in ways that are not, shall we say, completely in accord with Biblical teachings on things like adultery, bearing false witness, stealing, and such. I won't name names; just watch closely for the forked tongues. At a time when the US is urging different religious factions to cooperate in governing various parts of the planet, having a tiny bit of religious diversity at home can't hurt our credibility. Now where are those Sikh politicians hiding out?

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