By Brooke Obie

In 2006, U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison was elected to represent Minnesota’s 5th district, becoming the state’s first African American representative and the first Muslim to serve in Congress.

To both praise and controversy, Ellison was sworn into office on a copy of the Qur’an once owned by Thomas Jefferson, a reminder of the religious tolerance the nation was founded upon. Ellison’s faith journey was founded on that same principle.

Raised by devout Catholic parents, Ellison, the third of five sons, remembers respect, tolerance and social justice being constant topics in his household, and he was given the right to choose his path at a young age.  As a kid, when Ellison became disinterested in Catholicism, seeing the faith as “just rules and regulations, orthodox dogma,” he stopped attending services.  [Read more…]