December 25th, 2008
06:00 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama picks Bible for inauguration, but what verse?

The 1861 Lincoln Inaugural Bible against the backdrop of the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress.

The 1861 Lincoln Inaugural Bible against the backdrop of the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress.

(CNN) - While President-elect Barack Obama will certainly be making history when he takes the oath of office on January 20, he'll also be repeating it - by placing his hand on the same Bible that Abraham Lincoln used during the inauguration of 1861.

The Constitution does not require presidents to be sworn in on a Bible, though almost every chief executive since George Washington has chosen to do so. Presidents have differed greatly, however, on the question of which passage the Bible should be opened to during the swearing-in ceremony.

It brings up the question of what - if any - biblical passage Obama will emphasize.

If what is past is prologue, as Shakespeare famously wrote (a quote now engraved in front of the National Archives), he might opt for the popular presidential theme of repentance.

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soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Tim E

    "It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear."

    December 25, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  2. Ravi in MO

    Kenneth M.: Barack was born in the United States, in the state of HI. I'm surprised people still don't know this.

    December 25, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  3. sunshine

    If God be for us, who can be against us.

    December 25, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  4. Ann

    What about Forgive me Father for the lies I used to get elected..

    December 25, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  5. Texas Teacher

    I am sure that whatever Barack Obama chooses... it will be appropriate for him.... and that is all that really matters. Becoming a President is a National thing.... but it is also a very personal thing.

    God bless, our new President and his family. God Bless our new VP and his family. 🙂 God bless us all.

    December 25, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  6. chuck

    To Kenneth of flushing Queens. How much of that dirty stuff did you have for dinner? President Obama RULES.

    December 25, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |

    recite the ten commandments and then know what they mean..... TELL THE TRUTH..... but he is not smart enough to know how to do that

    December 25, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  8. Nomore Bush

    Why in the hell does anyone have to use a book of mythology to take an oath? Time to end the christian myth.

    December 25, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  9. earle,florida

    Mr. Fluff has so many "BS"lines he could throw darts at a open book,and and it would punch out "Hope" the final frontier.He could paraphrase it like his debates,but careful not to plagerize,...? Sound familiar,...listen up!

    December 25, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  10. James

    I agree with American... those are very good choices. Whatever he picks, I'm sure it will be incredibly appropriate...

    December 25, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  11. frank johnson

    Psalm 1 : verses 1 – 12

    December 25, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  12. Maggie SC

    I think it is wise and a good move for Obama to choose the Bible Abraham Lincoln used and he seems to be usning him for a role model. that is very good for him since he too seems to be trying to heal the gap between the races and bring better relationships and communiucation between us. I will continue to pray for him as he will be out chief in command and we need to pray to God to make him wise and stron for the road ahead. May God bless him and make his decisions with God's choice in mind. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Obama

    December 25, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  13. Juan Grain

    Cool Beans!!!

    December 25, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  14. Stanley Jones-Umberger

    Separation of Church and State. Do not quote from the Bible or any other work of fiction. Just tell us you'll try to do the best for all the beings that live in America at every opportunity. Shun the hypocrisy of politics. Tax fairly, Spend wisely. Audit everything. Demand accountability.

    December 25, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  15. josh

    Say " God by any other name is still a GOD. God means Humanity.
    God symbolizes good. Thats it .
    Nothing more to say.

    December 25, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  16. Rob Redmond

    The president, whomever he may be, has always been forced to put up the facade of a devoutly religious man. However, these power-seeking men who become president do this specifically because we the public have so many devoutly religious amongst us. They know we must believe that they want to serve, that they are humble, and that they are like us.

    They are no humble, they want power and glory, and they are nothing like any of us. Obama does not know the price of a gallon of milk. He does not shop at your local grocery store. He does not own clothes you or I could afford. His wife's jewelry is worth more than our homes.

    Obama's case in particular is hilarious because he had so much trouble with Rev. Wright, but if he is anything like most politicians, he is more Machiavellian and less than religious when it comes to philosophy. I doubt he knows Wright very well, and he has probably joked privately about putting his hand on a Koran at the inauguration just to spin all of us up.

    The general public will continue to buy into the marketing these candidates put forward because marketing works. Some believe Obama a socialist or that Bush is stupid, or that Obama is here to save us or that Bush is a true Patriot who saved our country from terrorism.

    All are myths. All are false. All are invented images from PR consultants. These two men are very much identical: power hungry, ambitious, loving of attention and comforts, and very much in the pocket of other powerful industry leaders.

    There will be no change. The president is not his own man. Understanding power is about letting go of childhood views of politicians.

    December 25, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  17. Ed, Santa Fe, NM


    December 25, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  18. go away mongers Ventura ca

    "If my people which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves and pray............"

    December 25, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  19. Concerned citizen

    How about "the truth shall set you free"!
    The day of this great mans swearing in will go down as one of the greatest days of all times and at the same time America will free itself of the worst president and vice president to ever hold office!
    The day of reckoning!

    December 25, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  20. Remy

    Rituals of this kind will give some more political benefit.

    December 25, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  21. Jeff an Independent

    If we take a cue from Obama himself in Dreams From My Father, he may use the story of Hannah from Samuel (p. 292), or something from "the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharoah, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones" (p. 294). He has often spoken of being his brother/sister's keeper. He may quote Jesus, "As you have (been merciful) unto the least of these, you have done so unto me". I expect him to speak from his big heart and his deep faith.

    December 25, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  22. yellow dog democrat

    oh my all the anti-jesus – who think they know Christian values are here with their stones again – meaning they don't know the first thing about spirituallity – they are dead inside and it shows clearly.

    you are here to test us again – well just go back to your darkness – this is a new day –

    we have a President Elect that has a heart & soul and some find that perplexing!

    December 25, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  23. Marc

    To Kenneth –
    Anyone who was born in the state of Hawaii during the XXth Century, yes even before it was a state, is an American citizen. The laws of the state forbids the access to some oficial documentations to anyone who thinks that has the right to see it, like journalist or politicians. PEOTUS Barak Obama has no obligation to allow the Hawaiian authorities to show his original document simply because paranoid conspiracy theorist claims that has the right to demand that from him.
    Stop with the Muslim nonsense. Being a Muslim is not a degradation, no matter what all the... losers (the right word is unpublishable) that thinks that THEY are the real Muslims made you believe. If that was true then after all that the KKK did, specially when they were well considered by the majority of the Americans (first half of the past Century) the Southern Christian denominations would be really tainted even now. And he's not Muslim anyway.
    Finally, I'm not sure if this is 'news' material or 'gossip' material CNN.

    PS: Stop 'moderating' my posts, this is my second try!

    December 25, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  24. Kaleena

    The bible should not even be used in this ceremony.

    Freedom of my religion my big fat foot.

    December 25, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  25. To Hottie

    Time will reveal the truth. Then we can all laugh together.

    It really does not matter though. He is going with tradition and using the bible. Every president should despite his or her political beliefs. This country was founded on the beliefs of the bible, so do not break tradition. Besides, he does want to get re elected right?

    Read his lips. He lies like all of the previous presidents did and will always do. It is part of the job of being a politician after all.

    God bless our new president and we will all keep his decisions in our prayers.

    December 25, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
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