When a President takes the oath of office using a bible, it is a perfect symbol of bad religion.
Obviously, using a Christian Bible is inappropriate because many citizens aren’t Christian and deserve a President who serves them equally, but the act is also bad Christianity as well.
What does it mean for a President to take an oath on a book that forbids the taking of oaths?
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to God.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is God’s footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this is evil.(Matt. 5:33-37)
When we deal with the Bible, not as a message but as a holy object, are we not exhibiting the rankest form of superstition? Is not the surest way to deny the Bible’s message to raise the book unopened and place it upon a pedestal?
What does it mean when we use the Bible to pledge allegiance to something else? In other words, when the President places a hand on the Bible and pledges allegiance to the constititution, does that not make the Bible a kind of magical tool cast to the service of our nation?
The Bible contains a latent call to a new vision of human government. It is not everywhere clear, but the plot line of the Bible is a movement toward universality. The Kingdoms of Earth are to become a “Kindom” based on justice and compassion. Nationalism is inconsistent with that universal message. It is arrogant heresy to ask God to be on our side and not someone else’s. Perhaps the President should put a hand on the constitution and pledge allegiance to universal justice instead.
Finally, what does it mean when a president uses the bible of the American prophet Martin Luther King without the same radical commitment to undoing predatory capitalism and military empire? Is it not diluting the one medicine that could heal this country? To pledge ourselves to the goals of Martin Luther King is mockery so long as we are also pledged to the methods he abhorred.