Manlius, New York isn’t the only city where several new elected officials took an oath on something other than the Bible. When the new members of the Oneonta Common Council were sworn in last week, three of them took their oaths on a copy of the Constitution.
“I figure upholding a political office and upholding the law of the United States, which is the Constitution, relates more to my job politically than the Bible does,” said Jill Basile, sworn in as the city’s District 14 county board representative. “I understand and value the tradition of swearing on the Bible, but I also understand and value that people are different, religions are different, and being able to make a choice is powerful.”
Basile hopes others feel the same. “I think that folks should embrace differences and someone swearing-in on a Constitution shouldn’t affect how people perceive them doing their job as an elected official,” she said.
Council member John Rafter, Seventh Ward, who also swore on the Constitution, insisted “people can use anything to swear on. They don’t have to choose between two. It’s simply a swearing-in, and where my hand is is irrelevant. I can swear on ‘Finnegan’s Wake’” — the James Joyce classic — “if I want, because I believe in it very strongly.”
I love that line when describing oaths: “Where my hand is is irrelevant.” It’s a perfect pushback to the conservative belief that symbols of patriotism are more important than actual love of the country. I would much rather see a government official take an oath on a Dr. Seuss book because she reads it to her kids at night than an ignorant conservative who places his hand on the Bible before pushing for God-awful policies.
Even the other members of the Council who swore on the Bible didn’t seem to mind their new colleagues’ decision. Just as it should be.
This wasn’t a controversial thing to do. But too often, conservative Christians try to make it a big deal because they’re scared to death of America walking away from traditions that promote the myth of a Christian Nation.
(Featured image via Facebook. Thanks to Brian for the link)