N.C. Lawsuit Seeks To Win Approval For Court Oaths On Koran

A recently filed lawsuit in North Carolina seeks to force state courts to expand the definition of “Holy Scriptures” to include the Koran and other religious texts.

The state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the case in July after a Superior Court judge refused to allow swearing-in oaths to be taken on a Koran. State law specifies that the oath be taken on “Holy Scriptures” but does not specify the Bible.

“We believe ‘Holy Scriptures’ is plenty broad enough to include multiple religious texts,” Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the North Carolina ACLU, told the Raleigh News and Observer.

North Carolina law allows people of no religious faith to affirm that their testimony in court is truthful, and believers who oppose saying oaths may simply raise a hand and affirm to tell the truth. All others are expected to swear on a Bible, a practice the ACLU says leaves out believers from other traditions.

The issue came to a head in Greensboro when a Muslim group donated copies of the Koran to local courthouses. A Superior Court judge, W. Douglas Albright, who has jurisdiction over other courts in the county, ruled that an oath said on the Koran would not be considered lawful.

At least one Religious Right activist is rallying to the Bible’s defense.

“The ACLU is not attempting to bring accommodation; that already exists,” said Erik Stanley of the Liberty Counsel, a legal group affiliated with the Rev. Jerry Falwell. “They’re trying to erase history. Courtroom oaths have always been done on the Bible.”