The Democrat took the oath of office on a family Bible. “We have much to restore, to heal, and much to gain”, he said. There were several references to faith during the ceremony.
Joe Biden was sworn in as President of the United States on Wednesday, 20 January, in a ceremony marked by strict security measures in Washington D.C. and a low public attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In an atypical atmosphere for such ceremonies, without the presence of former President Donald Trump, the new president took the oath of office by placing his hand on a largeBible. It was a family heirloom, which has been with the Biden family on important occasions since 1893.
Biden is the second Roman Catholic President in the history of the United States, after John F. Kennedy.
The first speech of the US President had a conciliatory tone, with a constant call for “unity” and to work together to overcome what he described as "great challenges" for the country, such as the coronavirus crisis and racial confrontation.
Biden talked about what happened on Capitol Hill, stating that “democracy is precious, democracy is fragile. And at this hour, democracy has prevailed”. He also warned of the danger of lies and how they can undermine democracy.
The new President acknowledged that there has been a strong political and social confrontation, so that “we have much to repair, to restore, to heal, to build and much to gain”.
“To all those who still disagree, so be it. Yet hear me clearly: Disagreement must not lead to disunion. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos”, he added.
In the middle of his speech, Biden quoted Augustine of Hippo and Psalm 30 when, referring to the crises facing the country, he said: “I promise you this: as the Bible says weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning”.
Furthermore, he asked for a moment of silent prayer to remember the victims of the pandemic, who now number more than 400,000 in the United States and are at their highest peaks in recent days.
Biden's speech was not the only reference to faith during the ceremony.
Kamala Harris was sworn in as Vice President with her hand on two Bibles. One belonged to a family friend and the other to Thurgood Marshall, who was the first African-American judge to sit on the Supreme Court and is one of the Vice President's great role models.
Shortly after the President's remarks, country singer Garth Brooks performed the well known Christian hymn Amazing Grace a capella. At the end, he asked everyone present to join him in singing the song composed by John Newton.
Silvester Beaman, a Methodist pastor in Delaware and a friend of President Biden for more than 30 years closed the inauguration. He quoted part of the Lord's Prayer and ended by asking God to "teach us to live, to love, to heal, to reconcile with one another, and to seek the kingdom of God, for your glory, majesty and power”.
Several evangelical leaders expressed their good wishes for the president-elect and pledged to pray for him.
Russell Moore congratulated Joe Biden. “You have my prayers for blessing, wisdom, health, and success in leading our country”, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Liberty Commission, wrote on Twitter.
Congratulations to President @JoeBiden. You have my prayers for blessing, wisdom, health, and success in leading our country. ?ﾟﾇﾸ
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) January 20, 2021
Well-known evangelist Franklin Graham expressed his appreciation for Biden's “conciliatory words”, while calling for Democrats to drop impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. “I encourage everyone to pray for Biden”, he added.
I hope President @JoeBiden will stand up to those on Capitol Hill who want to impeach Donald Trump and tell them to put this behind us. If he wants to unite the country, this would be a huge step forward. I encourage everyone to pray for him.
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) January 20, 2021
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