Bibles at presidential inauguration
Posted: 10 January 2013 06:48 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The Washington Post has an article today stating that President Obama will use two Bibles at his ceremonial swearing in on Jan. 21.
Here is the link.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/obama-plans-to-take-oath-of-office-with-hand-on-stacked-bibles-used-by-lincoln-and-king/2013/01/10/2a2ecf64-5afd-11e2-b8b2-0d18a64c8dfa_story.html


Here is my comment to it.  Am I overeacting?  going too far? 

Twice as bad as I had hoped. I had hoped that NO bibles would be brought to or used in this rite of our secular government, but no!  now there will be TWO!  This non-constitutional tradition, as well as the addition of “so help me God”  to the official oath(as stated in the US Constitution) symbolizes a regrettable back sliding and reversion to the pre-Enlightenment period of human history. Our secular government and its rites should not be adulterated or tainted by the use of theistic, religious symbols and words.  It is contrary to the principle of separation of church and state and is an embarrassment to a country of science, reason, and freedom of conscious. It confirms the favored status of the Christian religion over all others and the favoring of Christians over all other citizens.  it says: if you are not a Christian, you are not part of us.  It is an act of bigotry, discrimination, and religious tyranny.

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Posted: 10 January 2013 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I agree with you.  But were just not that far into the future yet buddy.

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Posted: 10 January 2013 01:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I agree with Vyazma. This is going to take some time. There are other examples of this sort of thing. “In God We Trust” on our money. “One nation under god ” in the pledge.  I always thought it would be far more appropriate for the president to have his hand on the actual document he is swearing to uphold, the constitution. It would be more meaningful, more correct, more in line with the establishment clause, and I don’t think that would offend anyone.

[ Edited: 10 January 2013 05:00 PM by macgyver ]
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Posted: 23 January 2013 08:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I hate to split hairs, but I would take exception to one point. I consider our nation state to be a state that protects freedom of conscience- we are a state that protects the freedom of and from religion. That is not the same thing as a secular state. To me a secular state would be France- a state which bars private displays of devotion in public spaces. I think it is perfectly acceptable for the individual President elect to adjust his oath to meet his conscience. Now, if he proposed legislation to require the next guy to do it the same way- that would be in violation.
        For the record- I am opposed to religious oaths in court proceedings, and to the addition of “In God We Trust” as a second motto- because those are requirements on other consciences and if removed do no damage to the free exercise of religion of those who want them there.  To me, we must always make determinations in these matters along the lines of “Does the expression come at the cost of a person’s conscience that is large enough to override the right of the person making the expression? In other words, does Obama’s exercise of freedom of religion do material damage to my exercise of the same right? In this case, I would rule that Obama’s expression of faith in what is clearly a mixed public/private [removed]all presidents put their own twist to it) in no way damages another conscience to such a degree that it warrants taking his expression away from him. I wish we elected a JQAdams, or a T Roosevelt, or even a Jefferson, but we did not. Presidents have both public responsibilities and private prerogatives and the oath may be the one area where these have historically been intertwined most completely. Likewise if a Judge wants to take an oath on a Bible or two, or a Koran, or whatever- I have no problem. I would object if that was made a point during his handling of procedures that effect someone else directly- hence why I hate religious oaths for witnesses. (youtube Carlin’s bit on that one-very funny)

Now this is completely different, but in terms of politics; did you really think a moderate, triangulating Republicrat like Obama is going to fight that battle?

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Posted: 23 January 2013 09:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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That is not the same thing as a secular state.

As a practical matter, actually it IS the same thing as a secular state. “Congress shal make no law respecting an establishment of relgion or the free exercise thereof…” means just that. The government cannot get involved.

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Posted: 24 January 2013 05:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 23 January 2013 09:24 PM

That is not the same thing as a secular state.

As a practical matter, actually it IS the same thing as a secular state. ” The government cannot get involved.

Again for some this may be splitting hairs, but I think it is critical that we make very specific distinctions about what “shade of secularism” this country was founded upon, and what that might mean for future generations, including our own.

I agree whole-heartedly- that ““Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of relgion or the free exercise thereof…” means just that.”
It does ultimately force us to make a decision, because in practical matters those two clauses can come into conflict and we have to measure what is the best path.
In this case, would requiring Obama to take his oath (after generations of precedent otherwise) in a way that removes his voice of conscience do more injustice to the first clause- in which case you have to say that Obama’s personal form of oath taking rises to the legal equivalent of Congress passing a law establishing a religion for all?
Or does stopping him as an individual do more injustice to the second clause- Obama’s right to the free exercise of his personal belief system. I simply decide to protect the latter, in my opinion its way too politically damaging and dangerous to do any other thing.

Some may wish to go the Jacobin route and follow the path that France did and outlaw all public religious displays, but that hardly seems to be keeping in line with what was created and maintained to some degree or another since- freedom of conscience.

I am all for the expunging of superstition and irrational thought systems in American life, I also believe that it does not happen by ramming laws down peoples throats, it comes from winning the argument face to face, person to person, day to day. On the other hand, I believe that we should fight back against those who do try to legislate believe systems- I just do not think Obamas gesture rises to that level.

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Posted: 24 January 2013 06:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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In this case, would requiring Obama to take his oath (after generations of precedent otherwise) in a way that removes his voice of conscience do more injustice to the first clause- in which case you have to say that Obama’s personal form of oath taking rises to the legal equivalent of Congress passing a law establishing a religion for all?

In this case there’s no conflict because Congress is not making any sort of law on the matter and Obama as well as any of his successors is practicing his own religion without forcing it on others as is his protected right to do.

Now, if the government was to require him to take his oath on a Bible, Qu’ran, Tripitaka, Veda, or the Egyptian Book of the Dead, that would be crossing the line.

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Posted: 24 January 2013 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I am all for the expunging of superstition and irrational thought systems in American life, I also believe that it does not happen by ramming laws down peoples throats, it comes from winning the argument face to face, person to person, day to day. On the other hand, I believe that we should fight back against those who do try to legislate believe systems- I just do not think Obamas gesture rises to that level.

Obama’s gesture was genuinely symbolic. By using both Lincoln’s and King’s bibles he was emphasizing the end result of their struggles against the norms of their day. Yes Obama is a professing xtian and maybe he actually believes that philosophy and follows the positive tenets found there (cherry picking them for pragmatic purposes), but I do not think that he was in any way endorsing xtianity as a national religion. IMO it would have been better to swear an oath on the Constituton but tradition and the conservatives have to be placated for now. What we as skeptics can do is to chip away at the tradition until it is discarded as anachronistic just as Westn Europe has done. We can also safeguard the first amendment by forcing the xtians back over the line when they attempt to impose their belief system on politics as you mentioned. If you listen to the howling dogs on the right (faux news) Obama is a flaming LIBERAL out to take our guns and our freedom to hate whatever group we wish. He even recognizes gays in the mainstream! This is a slippery slope foks. What’s next, atheists? No, I don’t think we have to worry about the Prez. Forcing his church of christ views on us. Maybe an agnostic president next just to ease us into the Whitehouse?


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Posted: 31 January 2013 01:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Well slowe, ideally I’d like to see no Bibles in courts, nor in Congress, nor in the White House, nor at the State nor the Municipal levels, but religion is the norm now-a-days and Humanists are the minority.  Get used to it.  In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think its a big deal. 

I think the the real issues that Humanist’s should take up with the religious is all the religious violence (not just from Muslims like al-Quieda and the Taliban).  Christian violence is exampled by the Inquisitions in Europe, the one here soon after 1776 when each former colony outlawed and executed people of any but the favored Christian sect of that former colony, Joseph Smith’s rampage across the Mid-West USA with the army of Mormon followers, the Jones Town massacre, the Heaven’s Gate cult killing themselves to meet up with the Hal-Bopp comet (which is really Jesus’ s spaceship), David Koresh and the Branch Dividians militia, the murder of Dr. George Tiller, preacher Terry Jones threatens to burn Korans in FL, the Catholic child abuse scandal that the Pope still hasn’t announced a big reform for solving the problem…

If Obama wants to touch the Bibles that Lincoln and King Jr. did, I’m not very worried, good for him. smile

[ Edited: 31 January 2013 02:02 PM by jump_in_the_pit ]
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