President Obama will be sworn in with his hand atop two Bibles during the inauguration on Jan. 21. Obama will use the same Lincoln Bible from his first term, and has added the “traveling Bible” of Martin Luther King, Jr. which the King family has provided.
Using both Bibles for the inauguration is significant as Jan. 21 is when we celebrate King’s birthday this year. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the Lincoln Memorial 50 years ago.
AP reported the King Bible has never been used before in a presidential inauguration, and Obama was the first president to use the Lincoln Bible since Lincoln himself in 1861.
An article in USA Today said King’s Bible will be on top, Lincoln’s on the bottom. AP reported the following statement from the King family:
‘We know our father would be deeply moved to see President Obama take the oath of office using his Bible,’ King’s children said in a statement provided by the inaugural committee. ‘His traveling Bible inspired him as he fought for freedom, justice and equality, and we hope it can be a source of strength for the president as he begins his second term.’
The tradition of taking the oath of office on the Bible started with George Washington; however, Obama is not the first to swear on two: “Harry Truman did so in 1949, Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 and Richard Nixon in 1969,” said AP.
Officially, the President will be sworn in during a private ceremony on Jan. 20 using a Bible from Michele Obama’s family.
According to AP, Vice President Joe Biden will also use a family Bible, the same one with the Celtic cross he has used for all his oaths for federal office over the last 40 years.