(CNSNews.com) - Not one, but three Bibles for President Obama's inaugural oath-taking.
On Sunday, January 20, President Obama officially will be sworn into his second term, taking the oath of office with his hand on a Bible belonging to his wife's family.
The next day, when he takes the oath a second time as part of public inaugural ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol, Obama will place his hand on two Bibles, one stacked on the other. One of the Bibles, which belonged to President Lincoln, Obama used in 2009. The other belonged to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Obama is being sworn in on the federal holiday devoted to King.
“President Obama is honored to use these Bibles at the swearing-in ceremonies,” said Steve Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. “On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, this historic moment is a reflection of the extraordinary progress we’ve made as a nation.”
There is no constitutional requirement for using a Bible during a swearing-in, but presidents traditionally have done so, choosing a book with personal or historical significance.
The Robinson family Bible was a gift from the first lady’s father, Fraser Robinson III, to his mother, LaVaughn Delores Robinson on Mother’s Day in 1958. Mrs. Robinson was the first African-American woman manager of a Moody Bible Institute’s bookstore and she used the Bible regularly.
The Lincoln Bible is part of the collections of the Library of Congress and was originally purchased by William Thomas Carroll, Clerk of the Supreme Court, for use during Lincoln’s swearing-in ceremony on March 4, 1861. The Bible itself is bound in burgundy velvet with a gold-washed white metal rim around the three outside edges of both covers, and all of its edges are heavily gilded.
The King Bible was Dr. King’s “traveling Bible,” used for inspiration and preparing sermons and speeches.
“We know our father would be deeply moved to see President Obama take the Oath of Office using his bible,” the Presidential Inaugural Committee quoted Dr. King’s children as saying. “His ‘traveling Bible’ inspired him as he fought for freedom, justice and equality, and we hope it can be a source of strength for the President as he begins his second term."
On Sunday and Monday, Vice President Biden will be sworn in using the Biden Family Bible, which is five inches thick, has a Celtic cross on the cover and has been in the Biden family since 1893. He used it every time he was sworn in as a senator and when he was sworn in as vice president in 2009.