Presidents should not swear in on a Bible

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U.S. presidents should not be sworn into office with their hand on a Bible.
At Monday’s inauguration of his second term, President Barack Obama will raise his right hand and place his left on not one, but two Bibles: One owned by Abraham Lincoln and the other by Martin Luther King Jr.

The Constitution requires he give this oath of office: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

You might recall that at his 2009 inauguration, President-elect Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts played some kind of “mad libs” with this oath during the swearing-in ceremony, muddling it so badly that they had to redo it a few days later. But why does the president swear on a Bible? Why doesn’t he place his hand on the U.S. Constitution — the very document he’s promising to “preserve, protect and defend”?

The Constitution does not require that the president take the oath of office by swearing on a Bible. That would have been a very simple requirement for the constitutional drafters to include. To the contrary, the Founders wanted to ensure that Americans of any faith — or no faith — could hold federal office.

They set it forth plainly in Article VI: “… No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Written By: Dean Obeidallah
continue to source article at cnn.com

21 COMMENTS

  1. The more presidents-elect who swear the presidential oath on a volume of the US Constitution or some such suitable symbol, the better for keeping the symbolism of that ceremony clear and appropriate for a constitutionally secular government. Using a Bible does seem to be a sneaky insinuation of Christianity into the nation’s public life. This is clearly contrary to the intention behind the US Constitution itself.

  2. People i talk to lead of with…”I was brought up to believe…” the dangers of brain washing clearly evident and how accepting they are. It seems to a function of laziness. The lack wanting to use one’s own brain and use some actual personal thinking! Thinking on ones own is going against all the teachings of parents teachers and the church. Go with the flow. Forget your ideology condones those of the wrong religion with will go to ‘your’ hell. Born in wrong country go to hell! What a kind of religion is that? Even your own Jesus would disagree with that, lol.

  3. Not only that is wrong for presidents to swear in on a bible, but it is also wrong use of abbreviation B.C. for dating historical events, because doing so one gives a legitimacy to a religion. Instead of B.C. it is better to say before new era. :).

  4. It means something to the liars for jesus but to everyone else it is a worthless and useless act, one of many he will perform as a political leader. If he wants to distance himself from the worthless gestures he could start with this one.

  5. As a Brit, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens when the Queen pops her clogs. If you look at the old film of her coronation it is absolutely dripping with religion and reminds us that, for all that the UK may seem less religious than the US, state and religion are very much tied together in this ceremony. I reckon that when Charles III takes his oath I will be wishing that a mere hand on a bible was the only religious element of it.

  6. Ugh, and that benediction by the minister was particularly offensive. “We pray that you will bless us because without it, X would happen” and we’d all be in trouble because good only comes from God.

  7. From the very earliest days of civilisation, secular rulers and religious leaders have realised that they are each stronger for the mutual backslapping. The ruler says “Have your god ‘appoint’ me, and I will see everything goes well for your religion” The religious say “Happy to oblige”.

  8. I don’t’t think it’s unconstitutional to swear on the Bible, (obviously it’s also not unconstitutional not to), but the less presidents do it, the better. It’s all pandering and maintaining the illusion of Christianity as the ‘lead religion’ of the US.

  9. Modesti 4

    Not only that is wrong for presidents to swear in on a bible, but it is also wrong use of abbreviation B.C. for dating historical events, because doing so one gives a legitimacy to a religion. Instead of B.C. it is better to say before new era. :).

    Good thought. In the academic community the B.C. and A.D. have changed to C.E. (Common Era) and B.C.E. (Before Common Era). There is some dispute, if I recall, about the use of periods within the abbreviations.

  10. Jesus, I don’t care if President Obama swears on a copy of the Bible, the Koran, The Hunt for Red October or the ingredients on a carton of Sunny Delight. He’s not Mitt Romney, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum and that’s good enough for me. Pick your battles, RDnetters, for f@#k’s sake.

  11. I couldn’t give a damn if he takes an oath or not. Meaningless. If that’s his job, swearing to do his job is sort of silly. I don’t swear to be a law abiding citizen but I’m bound to it anyway, whether I like it or not. Oaths are utterly meaningless.

  12. In reply to #15 by Katy Cordeth:

    Pick your battles, RDnetters, for f@#k’s sake.

    Katy, I do agree that each of us has to pick battles, but the power of a community is that some of us can pick battles that free you up to pick others. This is an important battle for me because I work in the U.S. Federal Court system, where I have to accept the fact that refusing a Bible (unconstitutionally) shoved in front of me may influence the opinion of some jury members at trial. Getting Bibles out of the Courts is part and parcel of getting them, and prayer, out of the ceremonies and rituals of all of government, and that includes these oaths of office. Pick your battles, but let our community come after them like ants from every direction, each chipping away wherever possible.

  13. In reply to #18 by hellosnackbar:

    In reply to #7 by paulmcuk:

    As a Brit, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens when the Queen pops her clogs. If you look at the old film of her coronation it is absolutely dripping with religion and reminds us that, for all that the UK may seem less religious than the US, state and religion are very much tied together in this ceremony. I reckon that when Charles III takes his oath I will be wishing that a mere hand on a bible was the only religious element of it.

    Charlie’s reign is likely to be very short; his slightly controversial nature may result in his hand on the Koran as well?

  14. In reply to #2 by wcyranose:

    Seems like a blatant abuse of link of church and state..in fact it is a “handshake” more or less symbolically!

    Actually the Atheists have totally slandered and skewed the meaning of the 1st Amendment.

    There iS NOTHING in the 1st Amendment which suggests a Separation of church and state.

    I am sure I do not need to tell you where the term came from and that will help me keep this short.

    The way you think of a separation of church and state is not at all what was meant by Jefferson when he was speaking to the Danbury church. He was just saying that BASED ON WHAT DANBURY WAS ASKING HIM TO DO The WALL of SPERATION would not allow him to do it.
    That WALL was from CONGRESS MAKING LAWS ABOUT ESTABLISHED RELIGIONS!!!
    He felt that was meant for the Government as far as passing judgments on established religions at the time.
    IT DID NOT mean that the Government could not show a Religious siding as long as they don’t RULE on religious matters or side with a certain person based on religious views!

    There is NO separation of Church and State to the point that Atheists have tried to make it.

    You people are ABSURD!

    In fact, You use nonsense and twisting thoughts to get your way.

    When the Supreme court finds that someone CANNOT Put up a Manger scene they are doing the VERY THING the Founding Fathers wrote the 1st Amendment to Protect!!!

    You Atheists have the right to NOT LOOK at a manger scene or NOT GO!

    But I believe our Courts have violated the 1st Amendment every time they RULE against FREEDOM OF RELIGIOUS EXCERCIZE EVEN ON PUBLIC PROPERTY!!!

    If you disagree wait until you have something you stand for!! Oh that’s right the only thing you stand for is that there is no God and you want to aggravate Christians as much as possible.

  15. Religion should have nothing to do with politics or law. In England we have witnesses and juries swearing on bibles and an archbishop putting a crown on the new monarch’s head. When proceedings at the House of Lords were first televised, the cameras were switched off, because the lords were going to say their prayers, and we have 26 clergy (Lords Spiritual) automatically elected there.

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