Bible and American President

Barack Obama, the 44th President of United States is the first US president to swear on the Bible that Abraham Lincoln used for his 1861 inauguration.

In the US, presidents are not constitutionally required to be sworn in using a Bible, though most presidents have traditionally used one to take oath of office.

It was George Washington, the first president of United States of America who began this practice. He borrowed a Bible from St. John’s Lodge No. 1.

Chester A. Arthur in 1881 and Theodore Roosevelt in 1901, were some exceptions as they did not use a Bible.

Similarly, when Kennedy was assassinated, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson assumed the job of president and took the oath of office aboard “SAM 26000”- Air Force One in 1963. Since there was no Bible in the plane, he used a Roman Catholic missal (contains religious services).

The popular choice till date has been George Washington’s Bible. It has been used by Warren Harding, Dwight Eisenhower and George W Bush.

Some others like Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton have opted for personal Bibles. While Nixon used two Bibles belonging to his family, Clinton chose his grandmother’s.

The Lincoln Bible, an 1853 Oxford University Press edition, will be on display at the Library of Congress from Feb 12 to May 9 as part of an exhibition for the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.

No matter what the rule says, the presidents continue the tradition to finish the oath of office with the words “So help me God”.

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