FFRF of Georgia

DeWine’s swearing in OD’d Ohio on the bible, FFRF asserts

Written on 02/01/2019
Bailey Nachreiner-Mackesey

An overdose of bibles at the new Ohio governor’s swearing in is causing the Freedom From Religion Foundation to be concerned about the constitutional health of the Buckeye State. 

Gov. Mike DeWine chose to be officially sworn on Jan. 14 in at a religious ceremony held in his home, with Christian hymns, prayers, and an overemphasis on religion that included swearing in on not one, not two, but nine bibles.

This conveyed a fealty not to the United States, but rather to DeWine’s own religious beliefs, FFRF asserts. Instead of swearing in on nine bibles, it would have been far more appropriate for DeWine to swear in on the U.S. Constitution, a godless and entirely secular document, whose only references to religion are exclusionary.

“The United States was first among nations to separate religion from government,” FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor write to the governor. “Our founders did not claim a pipeline to a divinity, investing sovereignty not in a deity but in ‘We, the People.’ This wisdom has largely protected the United States from the religious slaughter and persecution rife around the world and historically whenever the government and religion are aligned.”

DeWine’s approach is also disdainful of a large and rapidly expanding segment of the population. Almost one-fourth of Americans are nonreligious — the fastest-growing religious demographic by religious identification. The governor’s decision to symbolically enmesh religion with his purely civil and secular authority as governor sent a clear and inappropriate message to nonreligious and non-Christian Ohioans that they are not first-class citizens, and to Christians that they are favored citizens.

The bible contains violent, sexist, homophobic and racist models of behavior that FFRF members find personally repugnant and that historically have been used to justify or excuse the most infamous conduct, including the execution of innumerable women as “witches,” because of one bible version, the justification of four centuries of barbaric, race-based slavery in the New World, and religious genocide around the globe.

Therefore, FFRF urges DeWine to honor our secular form of government in the future and keep divisive and unnecessary religion out of state-sponsored events.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national educational nonprofit with more than 31,000 members and several chapters around the country, including over 800 members and a Cleveland-based chapter in Ohio. FFRF's purposes are to uphold the constitutional separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters related to nontheism.