As Joe Biden and Kamala Harris scripted history in one of the most-eagerly watched inauguration of United States President and Vice-President, several things caught everyone's attention: Kamala Harris' choice and color of clothes, Lady Gaga's performance, and Joe Biden's bible.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in the law.
The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations.
Biden's bible, specifically, stood out to a lot of people: for it being as thick as it was, and it looked really old. Several people on the Internet noticed, and chimed in with their two cents.
Memes and light-hearted notes aside, the choice of Bible is significant. It isthe same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice president and seven times as senator from Delaware.
Joe Biden was sworn in on the same family bible he used at Beau’s hospital bedside when he was first sworn into the Senate in 1973 pic.twitter.com/HRZT0c3mU1— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) January 20, 2021
The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month.
"Our son, when he was sworn in as attorney general, all the important dates in our family, going way back. And it's just been a family heirloom," he added.
Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history.
He follows in a tradition of many other presidents who used family-owned scriptures to take their oaths, including Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
(With inputs from AP and CNN)