Ted Crockett, a spokesman for Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, apparently just found out that lawmakers don’t have to be sworn into office with a Christian Bible.
The lesson was delivered during a Tuesday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
When Tapper asked why Moore believed that Muslim Americans should be barred from Congress, Crockett said it was because the former judge thinks it’s unethical for Muslims to swear on the Bible. “You have to swear on the Bible to be an elected official in the United States of America,” Crockett claimed.
Then Tapper informed the campaign spokesman that elected officials can be sworn in on any text of their choosing. Crockett, a former county commissioner, was left speechless.
He froze for over seven seconds, which can feel like forever on live TV.
“You don’t actually have to swear on a Christian Bible,” Tapper told Crockett. “You can swear on anything, really.”
Crockett pushed back: “Oh no, I swore on the Bible. I’ve done it three times, Jake.”
Tapper replied by reminding Crockett that the Constitution does not require officials to use a Bible during their oath ceremonies: “The law is not that you have to swear on a Christian Bible. That is not the law.”
After the excruciating silence, Crockett attempted to redeem himself by pointing out that President Donald Trump was sworn into office with the Bible, but Tapper noted that was Trump’s own choice ― not the Constitution’s.
And the CNN host is absolutely right.
Article VI, clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution says that state and federal officials in the legislative, executive and judicial branches are required to take an oath or make an affirmation that they will support the Constitution. But they are not required to identify with any religion, including Christianity:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
When Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Muslim, took office in 2007, for example, he exercised his constitutional right to religious freedom and took a ceremonial oath using a Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Other lawmakers have taken their oaths on the Constitution itself.
After Crockett’s interview aired, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), the first Hindu elected to Congress, pointed out which religious text she used to take her oath: the Bhagavad-Gita.
“Founding fathers ensured religious freedom in bedrock of this country,” Gabbard tweeted.