Some Find Obama's Use of MLK Bible Both 'Heartwarming' and 'Upsetting'

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  • President Barack Obama takes the oath of office on Monday, Jan. 21, 2012, during his public swearing in ceremony administered by Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court, in this photo shared on Twitter by Priyanka Boghani of the Global Post.
    (Photo: Twitter/Priyanka Boghani)
    President Barack Obama takes the oath of office on Monday, Jan. 21, 2012, during his public swearing in ceremony administered by Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court, in this photo shared on Twitter by Priyanka Boghani of the Global Post.
By Katherine Weber, Christian Post Reporter
January 23, 2013|4:52 pm

Bernice King has lauded President Barack Obama's use of her father Martin Luther King Jr.'s Bible at his second inaugural ceremony, while Dr. Cornel West has decried the president's decision to take the oath of office with the civil rights icon's Bible as simple "pageantry."

Bernice King told CNN on Monday that she found President Obama's use of her father's personal Bible, which was expertly restored for the special occasion, "heartwarming."

"I think first and foremost, the fact that the president is using daddy's Bible is heartwarming for me because my father was first and foremost a preacher, he was a pastor, and it sort of reminds people of that," said King, who has previously served as an elder at Bishop Eddie Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga.

"My father was such a healing leader, and so was Abraham Lincoln, and our president in these times, because the nation is so divided, he's in one of those interesting positions where we're going to have to find a way to bring this nation together, to heal this nation," King added in her interview with CNN's Soledad O'Brien.

At the Jan. 21 inauguration, the president placed his hand on two Bibles, one previously owned by former President Abraham Lincoln, proponent of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the other belonging to King, to take his inaugural oath.

The 44th president of the U.S. also ended his inaugural oath with the non-mandatory phrase "so help me God."

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While many, such as King, saw President Obama's use of the historic Bibles as a highlight of the inaugural ceremony, others felt less enthused.

Dr. West, philosopher and professor at Princeton University, said on C-SPAN that President Obama choosing to be sworn in on King's Bible made him "upset."

"You don't use [MLK's] prophetic fire as just a moment in presidential pageantry, without understanding the challenge that he presents to all of those in power no matter what color they are," West recently told C-SPAN.

West went on to criticize President Obama's handling of current national issues, such as poverty, the Middle East, and the gap between the rich and poor.

West concluded his remarks, which were made during a roundtable discussion regarding national poverty at George Washington University and broadcasted by C-SPAN, by saying that he refuses to allow Martin Luther King's words to be "sanitized, de-odorized, and sterilized" as time goes on.

Obama's Monday inauguration for his second term as U.S. president included a day full of tradition and pageantry, such as parades and galas, and coincided with the federal holiday that recognizes the contributions of Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.

 

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