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American Presidents and the Bible

When President Obama had to restate his oath the day after his inauguration, a good deal was made of the fact that a Bible wasn’t used during the do-over. In fact, two other Presidents did not use Bible during their swearing in ­– Theodore Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson. The use of the Bible at presidential swearings-in is a matter of tradition rather than law, so reading too much in to its use or lack thereof might well be avoided.

Though presidential speeches have always been replete with quote from and allusions to Scripture that doesn’t mean every man who spoke the words was fully committed to them. In spite of this, there can be no doubt the Bible holds a central place in the fabric of American history and is a common theme across the centuries for our Commander in Chief. Consider these quotes from past presidents:

George Washington (1st President)

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.

John Quincy Adams (6th President)

The first and almost the only book deserving of universal attention is the Bible. I speak as a man of the world .. and I say to you. “Search the Scriptures.”

Andrew Jackson (7th President)

That Book, sir, is the rock on which our Republic rests.

Abraham Lincoln (16th President)

I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong.

It is the duty of nations as well as men to recognize the truth announced in Holy Scripture and proven by all of history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord

Woodrow Wilson (28th President)

The Bible is the one supreme source of revelation for the meaning of life, the nature of God, and spiritual nature and needs of men. It is the only guide of life which really leads the spirit in the way of peace and salvation. America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture.

Calvin Coolidge (30th President)

The strength of our country is the strength of its religious convictions. The foundations of our society and our government rests so much on the teachings of the bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.

Franklin Roosevelt (32nd President)

We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic. Where we have been truest and most consistent in obeying its precepts, we have attained the greatest measure of contentment and prosperity.”

Harry Truman (33rd President)

The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and Saint Matthew, from Isaiah and Saint Paul … If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State!

Ronald Reagan (40th President)

Inside the Bible’s pages lie all the answers to all of the problems man has ever known …It is my firm belief that the enduring values presented in its pages have a great meaning for each of us and for our nation. The Bible can touch our hearts, order our minds, and refresh our souls.

Noah Webster is noted among liberal and conservative scholars alike as the “Father of American Scholarship and Education.” For well over a century, his little blue-backed spellers were used almost exclusively to train young minds, and his An American Dictionary of the English Language stands as the seminal work of language in America. It is no coincidence nearly every entry in that masterpiece of a dictionary uses Scripture references to illustrate the meanings of words.

Whether all of the presidents took to heart what they said about the Bible is debatable, there can be no doubt it has been fundamental to much of what has made this nation great.

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