A Brief History of the Bible’s Use at Presidential Inaugurations https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/religion-holidays/2021/01/a-brief-history-of-the-bibles-use-at-presidential-inaugurations/

January 22, 2021 | Tevi Troy and Stuart Halpern
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In his inaugural speech on Wednesday, the new president alluded to the book of Exodus, and quoted a verse from Psalm 30: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” This psalm—read in full in the traditional Jewish morning liturgy—is one Joe Biden has cited in other speeches as well. Tevi Troy and Stuart Halpern commend such use of the Bible as “part of a welcome, long-running trend toward more religious language in public life”:

[All told], 27 out of 45 presidents have cited the Bible in their inaugural addresses, making a total of 64 biblical references. Forty-four came from the Hebrew Bible and twenty from the New Testament. . . . The tradition of biblical allusions in inaugural addresses dates back to the beginning of the republic, when George Washington made an argument for them. In his first inaugural, Washington referred to Psalm 82. “It would be peculiarly improper,” he said, “to omit in this official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of the nations.”

Although the U.S. has grown increasingly secular and religiously diverse, biblical references were less common earlier in American history. . . . The increased tone of religiosity may reflect a greater comfort with religion in the public square, as Americans have become less concerned over the prospect of state-established religions the likes of which the Pilgrims and other migrants fled.

In citing the Bible in his inaugural address, President Biden has continued a venerable and valuable presidential tradition, one that shaped the country’s cultural vocabulary for more than two centuries. Even in an ever more secular world, there’s still value in referencing such timeless words.

Read more on Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/god-at-the-inauguration-11611252044