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Goode Behavior

America is, of course, a profoundly religious country. But it comes as a surprise to many people that America is about the only nation founded without one dominant kind of faith. The Founders believed that every religion should be practiced without prejudice.

So it's disappointing today that a new member of the House of Representatives continues to be attacked simply for practicing his faith.

Keith Ellison, an African-American Islamic convert from Minnesota, announced that he would take his oath of office with a Koran rather than a Bible—actually, a Koran that belonged to that famous anti-American Thomas Jefferson, who collected texts from many religions.

Congressman Virgil Goode of Mr. Jefferson's Virginia (my home state—which, in this case, I'm embarrassed to say) announced that he wouldn't touch the Koran, wants to prevent Muslims from immigrating to this country, and strongly implied that Muslims can't represent American values.

It's hard to see how these position are helpful to winning the war on terror—which requires that the vast majority of Muslims, who are moderate, and practice what President Bush has called "a religion of peace," believe that America is attacking terrorists and not them.

Keith Ellison, who can trace his US ancestry back to 1741, refuses to attack Virgil Goode. He condemns the use of terrorism. Shouldn't Ellison be held up as an example of America's tolerance and pluralism, not insulted for being different?