Published Saturday, January 19, 2013
From Staff Reports
Pres. Barack Obama and Vice Pres. Joe Biden will be using historic Bibles for their swearing-in ceremonies on Sunday and Monday.
On Sunday, Obama will take the oath of office using the Robinson family Bible. On Monday, the president will again take the oath of office. At Monday’s ceremony, he will use two Bibles: the Bible used by Pres. Abraham Lincoln at his first inauguration, which Obama also used in 2009, and a Bible used by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Pres. Obama is honored to use these Bibles at the swearing-in ceremonies,” said Steve Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. “On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, this historic moment is a reflection of the extraordinary progress we’ve made as a nation.”
Though there is no constitutional requirement for the use of a Bible during the swearing-in, presidents have traditionally used Bibles for the ceremony, choosing a volume with personal or historical significance. In 2009, Obama became the first president sworn in using the Lincoln Bible since its initial use in 1861.
The Robinson Bible was selected specifically for the occasion. The volume was a gift from the first lady’s father, Fraser Robinson III, to his mother, LaVaughn Delores Robinson, on Mother’s Day in 1958. Mrs. Robinson was the first African-American woman manager of a Moody Bible Institute bookstore, and she used the Bible regularly.
The Lincoln Bible is part of the collections of the Library of Congress and was originally purchased by William Thomas Carroll, clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court, for use during Lincoln’s swearing-in ceremony on March 4, 1861. The Bible itself is bound in burgundy velvet with a gold-washed white metal rim around the three outside edges of both covers, and all of its edges are heavily gilded.
The King Bible was the Civil Rights leader’s “traveling bible.” An avid reader who was constantly on the road, King typically traveled with a selection of books that included this Bible. It was used for inspiration and preparing sermons and speeches, including during Dr. King’s time as pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.
On Sunday and Monday, Vice President Biden will be sworn in using the Biden family Bible, which is five inches thick, has a Celtic cross on the cover and has been in the Biden family since 1893. He used it every time he was sworn in as a U.S. senator and when he was sworn in as vice president in 2009.
Biden’s son, Beau, used it when he was sworn in as Delaware’s attorney general.
“For decades, the vice president’s Bible has been part of our country’s history,” Kerrigan said.
“It will continue to serve not just the Biden family, but the American people as well.”