Stupid answers to stupid questions

Martin Cothran, who never met a logical error he didn’t like, has a question about the inauguration:

If this isn’t a Christian nation, then why are presidents (including this one) sworn in using a Bible, rather than, say, the Koran or Bagavad-Gita?

For the same reason it wasn’t a White nation just because the first 43 presidents were all white, and neither is it a male nation just because all 44 so far have been men.

We’ll elect a woman one day, and some day a Jew will place his or her hand on a copy of Tanakh and take the oath. One day someone will take the oath of office with a copy of the Vedas, and one day someone will, when posed the question “so help you God?” after the oath, politely decline that extraconstitutional addition.

The fact that all the Presidents elected thus far have been Christian (in some sense) doesn’t make the nation Christian. To claim that it does is an exercise in faulty logic, and is unbecoming in someone who purports to teach logic.

The fact that America is not a Christian nation explains why my Jewish ancestors fled the officially Christian nations in which they were born. They wanted a place where official discrimination wouldn’t keep them down. They wanted a place where they didn’t have to fear pogroms, and where the army wouldn’t sweep through their towns periodically, kidnapping the males of a certain age off to be cannon fodder in wars between nations competing for the mantle of true heir to the Christian tradition. They wanted to know that their descendants had a chance to be in Congress, and even to grow up to be President. Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it never will. If that sort of logic were valid, Barack Obama wouldn’t be the President of these United States of America.


  1. #1 J-Dog
    January 21, 2009

    Mr. Cothran obviously doesn’t even read history… One of the past President’s took the oath with hand on law book, not bible. The world did not end, but it does show that Mr. Cothran is quite a maroon.

  2. #2 Carl
    January 21, 2009

    Or to put it another way, if this is a Christian nation, why is Joe Lieberman allowed to be a Senator?

    /Ditto to the Jewish ancestors thing, by the way

  3. #3 Jason Failes
    January 21, 2009

    Swearing on the bible is not illegal, just irrelevant.

    It’s my hope that some day a president chooses to be sworn in on a good introductory microbiology text, not just because microbiology is a great subject, but to illustrate the irrelevancy of putting one’s favorite book on display to begin a Presidency (unless, as stated before, that book contains the country’s laws you are swearing to uphold).

  4. #4 Elf Eye
    January 21, 2009

    Recently I shared a table with a woman who was surprised to learn that a Muslim individual is a member of the House of Representatives. Her comment: “Don’t you have to be a citizen to be in the Congress?” As if only Christians could be citizens! For the first time ever I told a stranger that I am an atheist by stating “There is no religious test for citizenship. I am an atheist, and I am a citizen.”

  5. #5 NJ
    January 21, 2009

    Elf Eye:

    For the first time ever I told a stranger that I am an atheist

    In this state? That could be hazardous to your health.

  6. #6 Charles
    January 21, 2009

    John Quincy Adams was the one who used a Constitutional law book. Also, Theodore Roosevelt didn’t use a Bible the first time he was sworn in. It was after an assassination, but still.

  7. #7 Marge
    January 21, 2009

    I heard yesterday that Lyndon Johnson also didn’t have a Bible available after Kennedy’s assassination. He did use a Book of Common Prayer found amoung JFK’s things. Using a copy of the constitution sounds like a good idea to me.

  8. #8 Modusoperandi
    January 22, 2009

    Plus, the Constitution is so much lighter than it used to be, so no one with through out their backs.

  9. #9 eric
    January 22, 2009

    Someone please take his keyboard away from him, not every President used a bible. The President and Vice President Elect get to choose if they want to place their hand on a book or not and what book(s).

    Before you get high and mighty why don’t you learn about a subject before talking out of your backside.