Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The second Muslim elected to the US Congress

The first was Keith Ellison (D-MN), who was elected in November 2006 (see A Muslim in Congress & the Spirit of the US Constitution).

It may be worth noting, incidentally, that both men are converts to Islam. No country can really claim to have religious liberty, as opposed to just toleration, unless individuals can freely choose to leave the religion into which they were born and embrace another. The fact that we can take this for granted--something that is definitely not true everywhere, and was not true in western societies for most of the past two millennia--is another cause for celebration.

(Barack Obama seems to have been raised in a basically non-religious home, perhaps with touches of New Age spirituality, and then embraced Christianity as an adult. That, too, is an expression of religious liberty. He could also have followed the opposite path--that is, he could have grown up Christian and then become openly non-religious as an adult, as many others have done. But if he had done this, or if he had become a Muslim, then I suspect, unfortunately, that he probably couldn't be a successful candidate for President. But that's another subject.)

--Jeff Weintraub
Talking Points Memo - Election Central
March 12, 2008
Democrat Carson Wins Special Election; Only 2nd Muslim Ever Elected To Congress
By Eric Kleefeld

Indianapolis City Councilman André Carson (D) has won the special election tonight to succeed the late Congresswoman Julia Carson (D), his grandmother. With 99% reporting, Carson has defeated Republican state Rep. Jon Elrod by 54%-43%.

Interesting fact: The younger Carson is a convert to Islam, making him only the second Muslim member of Congress ever, following freshman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN).