Bible Not the Only Book Used for Politicians' Oath-Takings
When Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Democrat who last month was elected the first Muslim in Congress, announced he would take his oath as a member of the House on the Quran, he provoked sharp criticism from conservatives.
The ensuing discussion has revived the debate about whether America's values and legal system are shaped only by Judeo-Christian heritage or if there is room for Islamic and other traditions.
But Ellison won't be the first politician to forgo the Bible in taking the oath of office.
Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle used the Tanakh when she took her oath in 2002, while Madeleine Kunin placed her hand on Jewish prayer books that had been in her family at least four generations when she was sworn in as the first woman governor of Vermont in 1985.
In 1825, John Quincy Adams took the presidential oath using a law volume instead of a Bible, and in 1853 Franklin Pierce affirmed the oath rather than swearing it. Herbert Hoover, citing his Quaker beliefs, also affirmed his oath in 1929 but did use a Bible, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Theodore Roosevelt used no Bible in taking his first oath of office in 1901, but did in 1905. …