Originally published in CBN News/The Brody File
When Donald Trump is sworn in as President of the United States tomorrow (Friday January 20) he’ll take the oath of office by placing his hand on his childhood bible that he’s owned for more than 60 years. He’ll also be using the famous Lincoln bible.
The President-elect was first given this bible when he was eight years old, just two days shy of his ninth birthday. The date was June 12 1955, the day he graduated Sunday Church Primary School at First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, New York. His mother, Mary Anne, presented it to him and he’s kept it ever since. The bible is a Revised Standard Version with his name imprinted on the front cover. The inside cover is signed by church officials with his name inscribed. Trump actually showed this exact bible to us in one of our nine interviews with him during the course of the campaign season.
Watch the interview below:
The other bible that will be used will be the Lincoln Bible. Abraham Lincoln used it for his first inauguration. It’s part of the collection at the Library of Congress and was also used by President Obama in 2009 and 2013.
Vice-president elect’s decision
Vice-president elect Mike Pence, too, has been capturing attention for his decision to choose a specific bible verse when he’s sworn in on Friday. He will use the Reagan family bible that Reagan used when he was sworn in as both a California governor and as US president, Charisma News reported.
But, according to Faithwire, Pence won’t simply be placing his hand on the holy book; he will specifically be taking the oath on 2 Chronicles 7:14, which reads, If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Pence said it will be “humbling” to use the very bible Reagan used as he joins Trump in officially taking the oath. This is reportedly the same verse Reagan used when he was inaugurated.
Traditions and the inauguration
The inauguration is a political affair that also includes spiritual components. In addition to prayer, another tradition is the bible used for the official oath of office.
It’s a tradition that dates back to the very first president.
George Washington started the custom in 1789. A newspaper reported he bowed and kissed the bible out of reverence.
“Washington was very aware that he was setting a precedent with everything he did,” Allison Brown, editor for the Museum of the Bible, told Christian Today referring to his choice to swear on the Bible.
And the precedent was set with Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, famously opening his bible to Matthew 7:1 and 18:7 for his second inauguration, going on to mention both verses in his address.
Bible not constitutionally required
After choosing members of their cabinets and the policies they’ll pursue, one of the decisions a new president must make is what book will be used for the inauguration. While the Constitution does not require the bible, it’s a time-honoured tradition that often gives a glimpse into the president’s spiritual life.
Several presidents did break tradition: Hayes, Arthur and Teddy Roosevelt didn’t use a bible, or anything for that matter.
Quincy Adams, though a devout Christian, took his oath on law books and the constitution.