ACLU Sues N.C. to Allow Various Religious Texts For Oaths

AP, July 26

RALEIGH, N.C.—The religious texts of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and faiths other than Christianity should be allowed in North Carolina courts for oaths promising truthful testimony, the ACLU argued in a lawsuit filed against the state Tuesday.

State law allows witnesses preparing to testify in court to take their oath either by laying a hand over a “Holy Scripture,” by saying “so help me God” without the use of a religious book or by using no religious symbols.

“We hope that the court will issue a ruling that the phrase “holy scripture” includes the Quran, Old Testament, and Bhagavad-Gita in addition to the Christian Bible,” said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

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The issue surfaced after Muslims from the Al-Ummil Ummat Islamic Center in Greensboro tried to donate copies of the Quran to Guilford County’s two courthouses last month.

Guilford Senior Resident Superior Court Judge W. Douglas Albright and Guilford Chief District Court Judge Joseph E. Turner decided not to accept the texts for courtroom use.

Both said an oath on the Quran is not a legal oath under state law, which refers to someone laying his hands on the “Holy Scriptures.” The two judges interpreted that to mean the Christian Bible.

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