Presidents should not Swear in on a Bible

[CNN] Presidents should not swear in on a Bible

The author of this article noted that J. Q. Adams recited the oath on a book of Laws of the United States. “He wanted to demonstrate that he recognized a barrier between church and state and that his loyalty was to our nation’s laws above all else.” T. Roosevelt did not use the Bible either.

No doubt that fundamentalists, had they been as nuts as those living today, would have ‘claimed’ that neither of these men were legitimate. But then, they claim lots of stuff, most often useless pap.

J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings would be equally appropriate- perhaps even more so since the plot actually can be followed from cover to cover. Tolkien’s ideas were crated from his interest in mythology, especially Beowulf. He also was inspired by the Germanic  tale,  Nibelungenlied as well as Norse myths and legends.

The prose of Tolkien clearly surpasses that seen in the Bible. The blood, horror, magic and other-worldliness are less grim in Tolkien’s writings than that of the Bible because the reader knows that it is pure fantasy. Sadly, although that book is filled with the same mythological fantasies, most people assume that the Bible is historical. Thus the ghastliness of it all.

130116162910-obeidallah-swearing-in-bible-story-top   What do bible-thumpers and other religiously-skewed people think obtains from a president pressing his flesh atop that book? Do they envision that he will absorb some mysterious power while resting his hand thereupon?

A better question might be: Do we really want the stuff written in that book to be absorbed into the skin of our president! The rapes, the slavery, the incest, the concubines, the murders, the ethnic cleansings, human sacrifice, the smiting, the vengeance…

Is this what we hope our president will absorb from that book?

It seems to me that the majority of that book radiates negative energy; why would we want our president to begin his 4-year term with his aura perverted?

Rather than using the Bible, perhaps one could seek out a book of stories of the lives of dedicated, caring and compassionate people from all across the world.  Quotes from philosophical sages down through the millennia or works by more modern sages like Dr. King, Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa and Thomas Merton.

Conceivably the president might place his palm on the book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong. Compared with the Bible, Ms. Armstrong’s book radiates positive energy, stimulating energy that could affect the leader of the free world to accomplish great things for The People of this nation as well as for the world!

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16 thoughts on “Presidents should not Swear in on a Bible

    1. We are so heavy on “symbolism” sincere or faked…the ritual is more important than reality. Keith Ellison used Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Koran. I made a joke about the William Golding book. Colleen makes a great point about pledging with the heart instead of a book, but could it be that we hav been burned by politicians and inured to the culture of deceit and corruption we live in that really have no reason to trust the human heart….if you ain’t got the book, it ain’t worth a look!

  1. I’ve been wondering if I would be charged by a judge with contempt of court when I refuse to pledge anything on a book of fables.

    1. Back in colonial times, Quakers were imprisoned for refusing to swear on a bible. Today, legally, you can refuse to swear on a bible in a court of law. As I said, it’s a ritual and you make the decision, but then you live with the PR fall out…How would your decision affect the way your testimony is interpreted by court? You can optionally take the oath and and affirm your promise to tell the truth. Legally, you are bound to swear to tell the truth. Your options? Take the Fifth or be charged with contempt…but you can swear on what ever your heart holds dearest. Perhaps “I swear on my blanky” or if you are Wayne LaPierre, “I swear on my Golden Kalishnikov”.

  2. Hello Muddy and All,
    I want to pass on that I have been working a LOT of hours starting at the first of the year and to include that the battery on my laptop is slowing dying. Where I have not commented much I do want to pass on that I try to read your postings everyday.

    Now with that being said, I too find it puzzling that Dick Cheney and his organ grinding monkey G. Bush both swore in on this same Bible but no sooner than they did; the lies, removing the regulations to make legal what was once illegal, and the plundering of the working middle class started. Now I know you can find all of these examples within the Bible…..but are these the scenarios of Jesus’ teachings would want you to follow? I’m sure Jesus never said, “Try to screw your neighbor out of as much of his money by making laws to making it legal.” I am also sure Jesus never said, “Lie to the masses if it promotes your viewpoint; because it does not matter if it is truthfully accurate or not.”

    So to close, you will hear too many today say that Cheney and his pet monkey were GOOD CHRISTIAN MEN. My own self respect and conscience would not let me be part of that club.

    Today given the choice of the two, I would rather swear in on the Tom Wolfe’s book, “Electric Koolaid Acid Test!” :-) Even this would be better than what Dick Cheney and George the Monkey promoted.

  3. Again, it was Washington who set the precedent. He used a Bible and added the words “so help me God” to the oath of office as decreed in the
    Constitution. Why? It seems Washington did it to increase unity in the
    newly created United States. Washington was not a believing Christian
    person, but he knew that there was still much disapproval for the
    creation of a new nation, and he seems to have thought that the Bible would be a symbol and his adding the words “so help me God” would legitimize
    his Presidency.

    Btw, was there a President who did not utter those words? Again, I think
    that it might be TR. Does any one know?

  4. Is there any need to anguish over what book to use? The Constitution calls
    for NO book period. Maybe TR had it right, when he used no book.

    I wonder if all these reactionaries and fundies who carry the Constitution
    in there pocket and want to quote it realize that the Constitition does not
    call for a Bible being used? Do they realize that the Constitution is a
    godless document? The Delaration isn’t, but the Constitution is!

    I wonder too if they realized that John Adams in the Treaty ending the Bribery Coast Pirate War, and official document of the United States, said
    that the United States is not a Christian nation? And, unlike, lets say,
    Washington and Jefferson, Adams was a Christian believer…..

  5. “The Delaration isn’t, but the Constitution is!”

    You wouldn’t believe the number of right wing fringes I meet who don’t know that the Declaration and Constitution are two completely different documents drawn up for completely different reasons at different times. And then there’s Glen Beck telling his loyal followers how the United States has wondered away from it’s beginnings, The Federalists Papers. Oh, I almost forgot about the ones who want to follow only the Constitution and Bill of Rights (so they can have guns) and do away with all the amendments.

  6. M_R et al, an aside: ( refer down to POST: “Racial Divide in Mississippi” and check out local newspaper editorial on Charter Schools)

  7. Info for uptheflag:Theodore Roosevelt did not use a Bible when taking the oath in 1901. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman, and Richard Nixon (also a Quaker) swore the oath on two Bibles. John Quincy Adams swore on a book of law, with the intention that he was swearing on the constitution. Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in on a Roman Catholic missal on Air Force One. Washington kissed the Bible afterwards, and subsequent presidents followed suit, up to and including Harry Truman, but Dwight D. Eisenhower broke that tradition by saying his own prayer instead of kissing the Bible.
    The words, “So, help me god” are not in the official presidential oath. Of course, for Barack Obama, I would refer back to my comment as to how the courts would interpret the refusing to “swear on a bible” concept as a PR disaster for a witness in a court case. The ritual becomes more important than the meaning. If he were to rock the boat on this one, he would be creating a plethora of problems unique to himself and his historic presidency. We have to cut him some slack here.

  8. Thanks, MD….Franklin Pierce, I understand, refused to use the Bible. It seems his son had died earlier, and the griving father said something to the effect, “how can I swear to a being that took my son away from us.” Indeed,
    he may have been the first?

    1. Interesting line from Pierce.

      Of course, had that happened here in this time, Bible-thumpers would have overwhelmed him with ‘reasons’ why his son was ‘taken up to the father…’

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