January 18, 2013
The President's Puritan Bibles
Stephen Prothero, Wall Street Journal
Theodore Roosevelt had a Bible-free inauguration in 1901, but from George Washington forward other American presidents have sworn their oaths of office with one hand in the air and the other on the Christian Scriptures. At Monday's inauguration, President Barack Obama will employ two Bibles: the Bible Abraham Lincoln used in 1861 at his first inaugural ceremony and a "traveling Bible" used by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
It is tempting to see Mr. Obama's choice of these two Bibles as an effort to underscore his legacy as America's first black president. But this choice can also be read theologically, as the president's assent to a theological tradition that runs from the Puritans to Lincoln to King and beyond.
TAGGED: Inauguration, Bible, Puritan, Barack Obama