Do You Have to Swear on the Bible to be an Elected Official

On January 3, 2019, the newly elected representatives took the oath of office for the 116th Congress.

Later that day, they each took part in a ceremonial swearing-in photo op with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Do You Have to Swear on the Bible to be an Elected Official

Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, two freshmen, each posed with their hands on their copies of the Quran.

Now a false story saying “Supreme Court Rules 5-4: Oaths Not Taken on Bibles Illegal” is making the rounds online.

Obviously not the case. To begin, the story was originally posted on a website with the caveat, “Everything on this page is fake.”

However, other websites lifted passages from the fabricated piece and passed them off as real news without including a notice. As an aside, the story contains false information that needs to be amended.

For instance, the Constitution of the United States is said to mandate that elected officials be sworn in with a Bible. Incorrect; no such provision exists in the Constitution.

You Just Have to Affirm The Constitution and Not The Religion

What this means is that you don’t have to worry about affirming any particular religious beliefs, and may instead focus solely on affirming the Constitution.

You can take an oath on whatever book you like, including a Dr. Seuss book (as one politician did) or the Bible (or another religious source) of your choosing.

Kelli Dunaway, a new member of the St. Louis County Council in Missouri, swore in on Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” in 2019.

Since Dunaway is a single parent, the book’s message of self-reliance likely struck a chord with her.

In 2014, Newly Appointed U.S. Ambassador Rejected to Use Religious Book for The Oath

While serving as U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, one official determined in 2014 she wouldn’t consult any books during her tenure.

Suzi LeVine, along with then-Vice President Joe Biden, utilised a Kindle Touch e-reader throughout the event, with the 19th Amendment displayed on the screen.

She is technically trained and has expressed a desire to utilise a 21st-century copy to symbolise her enthusiasm for modern advancements and optimism for the future.


A Bible, possibly one with personal importance, will likely be in Joe Biden’s hand as he takes the oath of office later this month.

Since Biden is a devout Roman Catholic who constantly invokes God and religious imagery in his talks, it is not shocking that he would utilise a Bible at the ceremony.

And it’s certainly not necessary. If Biden choose to reference the Bible (or any other religious text), that decision is entirely his to make.