What’s with all the swearing?


There’s been quite a storm this week after a federal politician was sworn into office as part of the government’s new front bench.

Federal Labor MP Ed Husic has been attacked in social media for using a Koran when he was sworn in as parliamentary secretary by the Governor-General.

The Australian-born member for the western Sydney seat of Chifley, the son of Bosnian immigrants, in 2010 became the first Muslim elected to federal parliament and is the first to take on a ministry position.

He was sworn in as parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and parliamentary secretary for broadband in Canberra on Monday. – SBS News

Social media went into overdrive with people attacking Mr Husic’s Facebook page.

Overnight, his Facebook page attracted posts from people angry he had used a Koran instead of a Bible to take his oath.

“You have created history of the worst order, to swear in on a Koran!! This is Australia with Australian Laws,” said one poster calling themselves Dinki Di Sheila.

“Swore to serve Australia using the same book terrorists do to serve Al-Qaeda ….Disgusting,” said another. – SBS News

There are a number of questions that this story raises for me, questions that go beyond knee-jerk reactions from rednecks, but before I get to them I need to say that I’ve met many politicians from a range of political parties and on the whole I have found them to be men and women of integrity who want to make a positive difference. They differ in their ideologies, and some have ideologies with which I vehemently disagree, but most have good intent. (Yes, I know that good intent doesn’t make bad political decisions acceptable, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

So now to the questions this story raises for me. Mr Husic has told media that he is a ‘non-practicing Muslim’. So what value is there in swearing on a book that he does not claim to follow?

That then leads us to the majority of parliamentarians who swear their oath on the Bible. How many of them actually claim to follow the teachings of the Christian Scriptures? So what value is there in swearing on a book that they do not revere or follow?

Furthermore, when our former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, took her oath, she also swore on a copy of the Bible, yet she claims that she is an atheist. So what value is there in swearing on a book that is based on a God that she doesn’t believe exists?

I’m not wanting to attack Mr Husic’s decision to acknowledge his heritage by swearing on the Koran or other parliamentarians for swearing on the Bible, I’m just interested in your opinions.

I should probably say that I also found it quite odd that when I was called up for jury duty some time ago, most of us swore our oath on the Bible, yet there were probably only a couple of us that would have considered ourselves Christian.

Is it appropriate to continue using the holy books of any faith to swear an oath? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

By the way, I’m interested in a range of opinions but I will remove any comments that aren’t respectful. If you want a bit of an insight into what that means here, you can check out my Comments Policy.

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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist and blogger from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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  • My first thought was if the Koran is his “holy book” then he should swear on that if he felt it was appropriate. It is his personal choice.

    Then my mind turned to all those who do not believe in the Bible and still swear on it. Like the Julia Gillard example you used. I would prefer they did not hold the Bible if they did not think of it as God Holy Word to us.

    Maybe it is time to give people the option to swear on the Bible if it is in line with their Christian belief or maybe just their hand on their heart if it is not?

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Dave.

      The idea of swearing on a holy book is to show the seriousness of the issue based on the value of the book being used. If there is no value placed in the Koran or the Bible, it makes no sense to use them for the oath.

  • Another small step towards islamisation and Sharia law of Australia.
    Just to name a few:-
    Halal stickers on almost all foods, no longer allowed to say merry christmas, muslim only schools, swimming pools only for female muslims, prayer rooms proposed for muslim players at footbal matches, muslims not wanting to stand in front of judges and females not removing their burqua in court, riots in the street for someone “insulting islam/prophet” overseas, muslim families with 5 or more children (non muslims average 1.5 children per family) Today the local rag headlined their advertising with “happy Ramadan”.etc etc.
    It’s only a matter of time!!!!

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Aldo.

      I’m wondering where you’ve encountered people no longer being allowed to say Merry Christmas. I know there’s been talk about it but I haven’t found an instance where this has actually happened.

      As for the Muslim only schools, we’ve had schools which only allow Christians in Australia for decades.

      I think we do need to be careful that while we try to accommodate those with different beliefs we don’t lose our own cultural identity but I’m not convinced that we’re being taken over.

  • A modified verson of the Pledge of Commitment should be used without reference to God…

    From this time forward I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws under the Constitution I will defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    Not complying with that , either deportation or jail.

    Regards Mike.

    • I’m certainly in favour of those who believe in God continuing with the tradition of swearing an oath that includes God but I agree that there should be an alternative used for those who don’t claim any faith.

  • I believe you should have a choice what you swear on, or the option to not to so at all. As I would be unhappy to be forced to swear on a book I don’t believe in, I don’t think others should be forced to either. if we, as Christians, want our religious freedom; we must allow it for others too.

    Ps thanks for visiting my blog 🙂