2009 Inaugural Persiflage

January 20, 2005 | 45 comments

If Romney (or Reid or a saint or saints unknown) get elected, should they be sworn in on the Bible or the Book of Mormon? Why?

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45 Responses to 2009 Inaugural Persiflage

  1. Jack on January 20, 2005 at 6:53 pm

    Let them be sworn in on the Bible, and then say yea to the presiding high priest.

  2. Bill on January 20, 2005 at 6:55 pm

    The Bible, of course.

    Because every previous president has deemed it sufficient, and I don’t think a Mormon would have any reason to repudiate this tradition.

    If a Muslim or a Hindu were elected, maybe there would be a problem.

    I wonder what an atheist would do (despite GWB’s inability to imagine how such a person could do the job). I could see such a person being content to preserve the tradition, even if it had a slightly different personal meaning.

  3. Kaimi on January 20, 2005 at 7:03 pm

    I don’t believe that Mormons swear on the Book of Mormon when taking an oath in courts. Do we?

  4. Bill on January 20, 2005 at 7:05 pm

    In any case, neither the Bible, nor the phrase “So help me God” is constitutionally required. Apparently, Franklin Pierce “affirmed” rather than swore, and FDR didn’t use a bible at all. Pierce also broke the tradition of kissing the Bible:


  5. J. Stapley on January 20, 2005 at 7:07 pm

    We say the Book of Mormon is the most correct book, so I could see where there is a case to be made. But what we should be really talking about is the D&C (which is really more correct than the BoM – at least I hope so). Or maybe a big green quad.

  6. Josh Kim on January 20, 2005 at 7:08 pm

    If a Mormon swears in as POTUS he should use the Quadruple Combination or something…

    Either way I wouldn’t mind if he simply used the Bible. See the Articles of Faith

  7. Bill on January 20, 2005 at 7:10 pm

    Sorry about the incorrect info in post 4. It was TR, not FDR, who didn’t use a Bible. I was misled because in the link they have mistakenly pictured FDR next to the comment about TR.

  8. Jack on January 20, 2005 at 7:12 pm

    J Stapley,

    That’s a nasty little can of worms you’re opening there…

  9. john fowles on January 20, 2005 at 7:12 pm

    I don’t think Latter-day Saints swear on Bibles in court, since noone does.

  10. john fowles on January 20, 2005 at 7:13 pm

    At least I don’t think they do anymore. They just affirm that what they will say is the truth.

  11. Ivan Wolfe on January 20, 2005 at 7:44 pm

    What translation of the Bible are they using for swearing in?

    While the KJV makes a good liturgical text for LDS, I’m partial to the NASB New American Standard Bible (though not the NASB-revised, which I think got a little to evangelical in its revisions).

  12. Kelly Knight on January 20, 2005 at 7:49 pm

    If Mit, or any other LDS President Pro-tem swore on anything other than the Bible, as tradition has established, it would cause a huge uproar and leave him mostly impotent in his attempt to govern.

    On the other hand, because we believe the Bible to be the word of God, why alienate the entire evangelical Christian population?

    What I would find interesting, however, would be the traditional attendance at church prior to the swearing in. Would Mit go the temple and take in an endowment session in preparation for such a huge event, or would he visit the local stake center? And would there be sacrament passed, or just a few great sermons from the High Council? Would they have an intermediate rest hymn?

    Really, I have thought about this for several years, and even though I have had the priveledge of being a bishop, this is not something that is covered in the Church Handbook of Instructions. What would Mit do? What would the Church do?

  13. greenfrog on January 20, 2005 at 8:05 pm

    If he swore on a Bible, does that mean that his oath would only be “mostly” binding?

  14. Adam Greenwood on January 20, 2005 at 8:05 pm

    Probably the best answer would be to organize some kind of interfaith deal in the National Cathedral. Have the prophet come, a coupla cardinals or archbishops, respected ministers and so on. Going to the temple would probably be too pointedly exclusionary, though if I had to be President I would very much want to start out that way.

  15. Kelly Knight on January 20, 2005 at 8:16 pm


    I think you are right. The National Cathedral is the “nations church” and would prove the most inclusionary. And I am certain that at some point in time, prior to the innaguration (sp?) Mit will attend the temple, probably many times.

    This does beg the question, however: would the secret service agents assigned to Mit necessarily have to be temple recommend carrying members? Or would they “pass the torch” to pre-screened members of Church Security at the front door?

  16. a random John on January 20, 2005 at 8:33 pm

    Please give Senator Reid equal time here along with Mitt so that this thread can be hijacked to discuss what a bad person he is.

  17. Justin on January 20, 2005 at 10:58 pm

    I’m sure there are plenty of LDS Secret Service personnel, considering the apparent frequency with which other federal agencies recruit at the BY.

  18. Sal on January 21, 2005 at 10:02 am

    There is some debate as to whether LDS people should swear at all. My grandfather has in his possession a letter from Joseph Fielding Smith, sent when he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve. It was in response as to whether my grandfather should take the oath on the Bible when testifying in court. President Smith said it would be inappropriate for a member of the Church to make an oath of any kind in any circumstance. He said it would be appropriate to affirm, but never to swear.

    Granted, President Smith was known to be extreme on many issues, but it is an interesting perspective.

  19. Sal on January 21, 2005 at 10:05 am

    I just noticed that this letter is exactly the type of thing that the previous post is talking about. I suppose I should submit a copy of the letter to the disputed Mormon texts website!

  20. Sal on January 21, 2005 at 10:25 am

    Off topic but interesting—-

    Does anyone actually believe that Romney has a chance for the GOP nomination in 2008?

  21. HL on January 21, 2005 at 10:31 am

    Kelly Knight: why alienate the entire evangelical Christian population?

    I can think of so many good reasons. Not least of which being the fact that the so-called “Christian Right” is about the most un-Christian thing in US politics.

    Also an interesting side note. I have often heard self-proclaimed Mormon democrats state that they would vote for Mit (usually citing 2 reasons in no particular order: he is moderate and he is Mormon). However, I have never heard a self-proclaimed Mormon republican state they would, under any circumstances, vote for Harry Reid and yet he is also moderate and Mormon (in fact the fact that an anti-abortion democrat has risen so high in the democrat ranks is a bit surprising). I wonder why that is? Any insights?

  22. Charles on January 21, 2005 at 11:01 am

    Presumably, Reid rose to high ranks because he is LDS. The Democrats recognize the importance of the religious right and moderates in the last election. I would imagine that with Mit’s popularity and the rising influence of the Church they would recognize the need to have a religiously devout person in such a position. Reid seems to fit that.

    As for swearing in; there are several scriptures that end with ‘as the the lord lives’ or ‘as God lives’. This was meant to be the testament or oath I have given is true and by swearing on the life of God it is a binding oath. I think swearing on the bible is paramount to this. If I were elected I would choose to swear on a set of quads.

  23. Eric James Stone on January 21, 2005 at 11:07 am

    I’m a Mormon Republican. Back in 1996, when Pat Buchanan was a contender for the Republican nomination, I decided that if he won the nomination, I would seriously consider voting for Bill Clinton. I’m willing to go further and state that if in 2008 Reid is the Democratic nominee and Buchanan the Republican, I’ll vote for Reid.

    There. Now you’ve heard a self-proclaimed Mormon Republican state that he would, under certain circumstances, vote for Harry Reid.

  24. annebg on January 21, 2005 at 11:08 am

    I have a friend in Iowa, who works for the Republican party, non-Mormon, who loves Mitt Romney and thinks he will be a contender for the presidency, and who would vote for him if he runs. I, myself, find him just a little suspect for some reason, maybe he’s just too pretty.

    I think a debate over whether an elected official should swear on the Bible or the Book of Mormon is ridiculous. The Bible, of course. How important is it, really? We live in the United States of America, not the United States of Mormon.

  25. Mark B. on January 21, 2005 at 11:24 am

    That’s right. We do live in the United States of Bible.

  26. Kaimi on January 21, 2005 at 11:27 am


    I think that the Republican party is smart enough to realize that Buchanan is a bad idea. But who knows, maybe not.

    For what it’s worth, the Wikipedia article on Presidential Election 2008 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._presidential_election,_2008 ) lists four Republicans as considered to be already working towards 2008: McCain, Gingrich, Giuliani, and Pataki. It’s got a long list of other politicians considered to be potential candidates, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._presidential_election,_2008#Republicans .

    Aside from Buchanan, are there other Republican hopefuls (among, say, the more mentioned names like McCain, Gingrich, Giuliani, Pataki, Rice, Powell, Ridge, Jeb Bush) whose nomination would potentially cause you to vote for Reid instead? What about Roy Moore?

  27. Sal on January 21, 2005 at 11:30 am

    I just can’t see Romney winning GOP primaries in the South. He doesn’t meet the GOP’s strict abortion litmus test, for one.

  28. HL on January 21, 2005 at 11:35 am

    And he’s Mormon and in the South I’ve heard that’s even worse than being Muslim, as far as electability, both having just under 0 chance, give or take a little.

  29. Bill on January 21, 2005 at 11:38 am

    Reid rose to high ranks not because the Democrats suddenly realized they had to throw a sop to the religious right (whose denizens are not satisfied by many Republicans) but for the same reason Lott beat out Thad Cochran in 1996: he can count votes. Senator Dodd’s attempt at the leadership quickly fizzled because Reid had made many friends and not as many enemies over many years in the Senate and lined up his support early. If Daschle had not lost by that razor-thin margin, he would likely still be the leader.

  30. Mike Parker on January 21, 2005 at 12:51 pm

    Kaimi #26:


  31. lyle on January 21, 2005 at 1:49 pm

    yup…Gingrich is running. he’s been fairly active on health care issues & social security.

  32. Floyd the Wonder Dog on January 21, 2005 at 1:50 pm

    If I had to chose between Mitt or Reid, I would have to chose Mitt. He’s had experience giving great parties and we wouldn’t have to worry about Ted Kennedy spiking the punch bowl.

    At the pre-inaguration church service, what special musical number would the Primary kids sing? Give said the Little Stream? That great just before cutting Socal Security. Book of Mormon Stories with all the hand motions? That would alienate we Native Americans. Latter-day Prophets? Uhmmmm.

  33. Adam Greenwood on January 21, 2005 at 2:12 pm

    They would sing ‘I am like a star.’ Very inoffensive.

  34. Floyd the Wonder Dog on January 21, 2005 at 2:22 pm

    How ’bout Happy Family with some changes?

    I love Mitt, he loves me.
    We love Hillary, yes siree.

  35. annebg on January 21, 2005 at 2:27 pm


    I really don’t care what they swear it on.

    And, for me, not to have an opinion on something is nothing short of a miracle.

    What does persiflage mean? oh, never mind, I’ll look it up.

    Are you guys using all these big words and stuff to show off or is that how you really talk?

  36. annebg on January 21, 2005 at 2:29 pm

    oh, for crying out loud, if you mean banter, say banter.

    Banter is a better word for this, whatever you call a conversation within a blog. which I’ve never been on before and am still fairly clueless about what a blog is.

    Probably not even in my dictionary.

  37. Bryce I on January 21, 2005 at 2:38 pm


    Adam has educated us previously in this lovely little dirge lamenting the end my guestblogging stint here.

  38. Adam Greenwood on January 21, 2005 at 3:37 pm

    “Are you guys using all these big words and stuff to show off or is that how you really talk?”

    What makes you think that when I’m “really talking” I’m not trying to show off?

  39. Kelly Knight on January 21, 2005 at 4:55 pm

    Back to HL-

    The Christian Right can, at times, seem abit over powering. However, it is largely because of the CR that Bush got re-elected, and will continue to be a strong force for the Republicans. I suppose, however, that if there is any alienating, it will be from the CR toward Mitt, or Harry, or Orrin, or ? from the Church.

    I do find it interesting that Mitt was able to get elected in Mass, where the majority seem to be Catholic and lean strongly left. How did that happen, anyway?

  40. Sal on January 22, 2005 at 2:04 am

    The race for governor in Massachusetts is usually quite competitive between the two parties. Dukakis was the last Democrat, so there’s been a Republican governor for some time now. It’s nothing special about Mitt — it’s been that way since 1988.

  41. annebg on January 22, 2005 at 10:08 am


  42. John David Payne on January 23, 2005 at 11:43 am


    I live in Massachusetts, and so I have some answers to your query. First, the three governors before Romney (Weld, Celucci, Swift) were Republican. So it’s not that big a surprise. Second, Romney ran unopposed in the primaries, while his opponent, Shannon O’Brien battled her way through a very tough primary, having to beat people like former Clinton administration Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. Third, O’Brien was the state treasurer at the time, and since the state was experiencing a fiscal crisis she was to some extent considered guilty by association. Fourth, O’Brien was seen as a political insider, since she had spent most of her life working in government and nearly every member of her extended family owed their livelihood to the state. Romney successfully linked O’Brien to corrupt state political bosses in the debates by saying she was one of a “gang of four” who obstructed reform (the other three were Finneran, Birmingham, and Travellini). Romney, on the other hand, was just coming off a huge success, having been brought in to head the Salt Lake Olympics after a huge corruption scandal. Mitt painted himself as a man who could clean up Massachusetts politics the way he had cleaned up the Olympic games. Fifth, everyone hated Shannon O’Brien, personally. They thought she was too aggressive, too combatative. Romeny is likeable, attractive, and has a dignified bearing. He looked like a winner, O’Brien looked like a loser.

  43. Kristine on January 23, 2005 at 1:03 pm

    John, I also think Massachusetts is not nearly as liberal as its reputation, especially once you get outside of Boston and Cambridge.

  44. John David Payne on January 23, 2005 at 7:10 pm

    Kristine, I think you’re right. I was surprised to see this during the gubernatorial campaign and then even moreso during the gay marriage debate. Lots of the folks out “west of Worcester” would not be out of place where I went to high school in Kansas.

  45. Kelly Knight on January 23, 2005 at 9:03 pm

    John and Kristine-

    Thanks for the explanation. I have said before that my wife is the political expert in our family, though normally on national and international affairs. I guess with Senators Kennedy and the other guy, I really expected more of a democratic representation.

    But then, I live in a red state that some how keeps electing John McCain to office…


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