Bill O’Reilly seems to think the President should have to be sworn in on the Bible, while The Freedom from Religion Foundation doesn’t. On O’Reilly’s show the other day, the two duked it out.
Here’s what they said in a nutshell:
Andrew Seidel told O’Reilly that nowhere in the Constitution is there any kind of reference to “so help me God.” O’Reilly explained that George Washington invoked God in his inaugural address because he, like the other Founders, believed there was a place for religion in the political sphere. Seidel pushed back, arguing that God is never invoked in the Constitution. O’Reilly scolded him, saying that the Declaration of Independence invokes God and it was the document that set the stakes for the Constitution.
On a more contemporary tone, O’Reilly asked Seidel how he could possibly think people would be okay with his proposal, given that an overwhelming majority of Americans are religious. Seidel argued that the cultural climate is changing, citing statistics that roughly one-fifth of the people in the United States are non-religious. O’Reilly suggested even many non-religious people may not care about Obma using a Bible.
Seidel made it clear that the Bill of Rights was designed to protect from tyranny of the majority, saying that religion gets morality from humanity and the Bible isn’t a good pinnacle of morality anyway. O’Reilly ended by quipping that Seidel can debate Washington and Dr. King in heaven.
As much as it galls me to agree with O’Reilly on…well…anything, I think the one point he made about many non-religious people not caring whether Obama is sworn in on the Bible could be true.
They’re probably used to seeing it happen. They just take for granted that it’s the way things are done, but that doesn’t necessarily make it right.
In my opinion, any elected leader in any secular country is voted in to represent everyone in that country. So why not swear on a document that means something to everyone, such as the constitution?
Wouldn’t that make more sense, instead of swearing on a religious document that only represents some of the population?
Imagine if an atheist were elected President. Would it be okay to be sworn in on ‘The God Delusion’ or some other work written about atheism? Would it be okay for a Muslim President to be sworn in on the Koran? How about a Hindu President swearing in on the Vedas?
Take this article, for instance:
Adams, the son of President John Adams, was a religious man. But he chose to be sworn in with his hand on a book of U.S. laws. He wanted to demonstrate that he recognized a barrier between church and state and that his loyalty was to our nation's laws above all else.
Adams also refused to campaign for the presidency because he believed it was beneath the dignity of the office to make promises that might not be kept. Clearly, Adams was not a man who acted because of tradition alone. He had to truly believe in what he did.
Some will argue that swearing on the Bible ensures the president adheres to his oath. But let's be honest: We have seen presidents and other elected officials swear to uphold the laws of our country with their hands on a Bible and go on to break many laws and ethical rules. It comes down to the person's moral code, not a 30-second oath.
And just so it's clear, my objection is not only to the Bible. I would hold the identical view if it were the Quran, the Book of Mormon or any other religious scripture.
The Founding Fathers made it clear that the U.S. Constitution, "...shall be the supreme law of the land." It is the living legacy they bestowed upon us. It is the framework for our government. And as such, that's the document our president should place his hand on.
I agree absolutely. Swearing in on a religious document (any religious document) blurs the line between church and state.