Our take: The presidential inaugurations this week had several firsts and other unusual circumstances of religious significance, among them President Barack Obama using two historic Bibles, used by Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. This column by Kathy Schiffer points out the 2013 swearing in is the first time in recent memory that the president didn’t not open a Bible to a passage of scripture during the ceremony.
This morning while you were probably still at church, Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States for a second term by Chief Justice John Roberts. The small private ceremony in the White House was unique in several respects:
TWO CEREMONIES. This year, there will be not one but two separate inaugurations. Because the Inauguration must occur on January 20, but the formal celebration is not typically held on a Sunday, the President will repeat the oath of office publicly on the steps of the Capitol tomorrow, January 21.
THREE BIBLES. This morning, the President took the oath of office with his left hand on Michelle Obama’s family Bible. Tomorrow, he will rest his hand on two historic Bibles, stacked together: the Lincoln Bible, the same burgundy velvet Bible on which Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office in 1865; and Martin Luther King’s “traveling bible,” the small, gently used bible which Dr. King carried with him when he visited southern cities to demand civil rights for all Americans, regardless of the color of their skin.
NO VERSES. Unlike the seven most recent residents of the White House, President Obama has not selected a Scripture verse which he likes, and upon which he will base his presidency. He will place his hand on the stack of closed bibles, but will not read the words which they contain.
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