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

Obama picks Bible for inauguration, but what verse?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Ohioguy

    Nomore Bush – The Bible is NOT myth.

    Maybe you should try reading it.

    December 25, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  2. harddirt

    Swearing in of the President of the United States is a governmental, or state, function. It is highly improper and unconstitutional to mix in any religious garbage in such functions, and such garbage should be banned.... unless the President also swears the oath on the Koran, Veda, etc., and promises to be President for ALL Americans..... not just Christians.

    December 25, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  3. Sylva

    The same people who is bashing Obama is probably the same people who "VOTED Bush" in "twice". But now they want to complain about the new President... WOW!

    December 25, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  4. chuck


    December 25, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  5. Lindsay Miller

    A bible... what happen to the separation between church and state. I have be Catholic my entire life but I do not feel that religion has any place is politics when will this ever stop.

    December 25, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  6. Paul

    I can do all things through Christ who strenghts me!

    December 25, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  7. Larry

    Lord–I had no idea how bad this is going to be.....

    December 25, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  8. rcasc

    For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. (KJV)

    December 25, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  9. Jerry

    he should pick the whole bible, not just a phrase, as a method of showing that he is trying to bring all of us together

    December 25, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |


    You wanted Hillary or McCain to win, didn't you?

    Well, they didn't. Get over it.

    Your next president is:


    Get therapy if you just can't deal with it.

    Silly republipuma.

    December 25, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  11. Jan

    I thought this country values freedom of religion?

    If so, then the President holding his hand over the Bible during his inauguration is just as fine as using another religions symbol or none at all.

    If it does make any difference to you, then you are out of line with the constitution. Nobody else.


    December 25, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  12. Dave, Illinois

    Hey "Nomore Bush", you must be one of the self-appointed "enlightened ones" who knows that there is no God. Yours is a religion that takes much more faith to believe in then Christianity. To believe that the DNA molecule is the product of chance simply escapes me. The binary (on or off) nature of genetic information (genes) within the DNA molecule and the nearly infinite combinations of these reminds me of the operation of an electronic computer. Computers operate by the processing of the binary states of many bits in memory banks in combination with the instructions being processed by the cpu and its arithmetic subcomponents. Could this come about by random chance? Think about it a little bit before making such ignorant statements.

    December 25, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  13. mark l holland

    Personally I would hope that no Unholy bible be used what so ever. Having someone swear their alliegence using a false holy book really does not impress me in the least. How about swearing in using the Constitution of the United States.

    The Unholy Bible has more contradictions and inconsistancies then I have hair on my body. And I have lot's of hair. George Washington aside it is a shame that such a tradition was ever started.

    December 25, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  14. Kenneth M. of Flushing Queens

    I was just kidding. I know Obama is not a Muslim and was born in Hawaii. I was just trying to get adobpted by the Southern Hottie. I see it worked. How is Savannah in the winter?

    December 25, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  15. Joyce

    It is his inauguration and he can choose whatever he wants. To those who object to a Bible, President-Elect Obama is a Christian and has the right to carry his faith with him and to be guided by it. If you have no faith, fine. Just respect PE Obama's rights.

    December 25, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |

    It's Christmas day and we're blogging?



    December 25, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  17. Independant Thinker

    I wonder when somebody is going to tell Obama that Lincoln was a Republican????

    December 25, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  18. worriedmom

    "In God We Trust". That is the only person that I have to worry about being true to.

    December 25, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  19. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    Does it really matter which bit of superstitious drivel Obama emphasises?

    As other people have suggested, if they really need to have some silly ritual, it really ought to be centered around something significant like the Constitution, not some overblown pre-technological myth.

    December 25, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  20. mark l holland


    Everyone is intitled to their individual and personal beleifs, I care little when people are Christian with Christian beliefs, it is when these Christians push their false beleifs upon others that I take offence. Obama seems to be a for real Jesus follower and if he is I see little problems with him.

    But if he is a Christian Fundamentalist or Evangelical that is a different matter. If he turns out to be either of these two evils he will need to be fought, if he is a simple Jesus Follower then he should be ok. Jesus followers may call themselves Christians but they are not main stream Christians. Jesus Followers are a decent people who actually read and obey the public teachings of Jesus.

    Christians on the other hand ignore Jesus's Public Teachings and obey every other teaching under the sun ignoring Jesus's Public Teachings. Jesus Followers I can tolerate, Christians I cannot tolerate.

    December 25, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  21. mark l holland


    By the way I am a Theist, but I am not a Christian, I reject the Unholy Bible simply because it is worthy of rejection, not because it talks of a God or Gods.

    December 25, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  22. Sue

    Obama will likely have one of His staff members select something from Sakespeare rather than a quote from the Bible for his inauguration speech. I wonder if that will be added to the Bible after the speech is over?. Remember, He is Hahvahd graduate, much more intelligent and sophisticated than the regular person?

    December 25, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  23. America loses, Barack wins

    You can use famous bibles and artifacts of our great Presidents, but until you get into the job and make the tough decisions for the beterment of the country will you be graded as a President. For now, enjoy the honeymoon because I expect with your throw money at every problem ideology, you love affair with bankrupting our future will be a short lived Presidency and you will be judged as just another Jimmy Carter of 1976 to 1980.

    As I said Barack wins for now, but America loses for four years.

    I just hope we are a Capitalist country still when you get your high tax and spend, favoritism to the unions and Cap and Trade tax and regulation policies take effect in the next few years. Big government has never solved economic problems on main street, Competition in a free enterprise environment with few hindrances such as high taxes and regulation and closed borders will right our ship, definitely not Barack or his Academic liberals. They will be the problem of our future and the solution. The quesiton is will our next Reagan be able to get us back to the conservatism we all know works and is best for jobs and our economy.

    As I said Barack wins for now, America loses.

    December 25, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  24. Well...

    this is fantastic. I refuse to acknowledge the likes of Kenneth in Flushing or The Verse He Needs to Read (pretending to be Dem/Gay/Upset) or those like them. They are going to have something negative to say about Obama no matter what he does or says. They come in all shades (racists, neo-cons, religious zealots, those in denial and or need of mental help) and if you read between the lines, you will be able to determine which one they are.

    PEOBAMA is Christian, he has proven his birth (certificate, place, etc.), he is not a Messian or Anti-Christ, he is not in office yet, he is working harder as PE than I have ever witnessed, and well the list goes on of fallacies and myths created by the above persons.

    I am so very proud of this man and our country. I plan to enjoy the next four years and do all I can to support our president in cleaning up the mess that is currently our United States of America. God bless him, his administration, his family, and all of you! Obama/Biden/USA

    December 25, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  25. Nonbeliever

    How about Deuteronomy?

    "20:14 But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee."

    That might shut up his critics. 😀

    December 25, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
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