By Frank Minero | 22 November 2014
Jessica Fitzwater recently won a seat on the Frederick County Council in Maryland. Traditionally, elected officials raise their right hand, then place their left hand on a bible while taking the oath of office. During December 1st’s swearing-in ceremony, Fitzwater will raise her right hand, but doesn’t feel placing her left hand on a bible is appropriate.
Fitzwater is Jewish, but is not considering swearing-in on a Torah, either. She is a strong supporter of the separation of church and state and will be taking her oath on a non-religious document. Local newspaper, Frederick News-Post spoke with Fitzwater,
“I think it’s more appropriate to swear my oath on something I will be upholding. I’m not upholding the teachings of the Bible. I’m upholding the charter or the Constitution.”
While Fitzwater will not take the oath on a bible, the ceremony will include an invocation led by a priest and a benediction by Fitzwater’s rabbi.
“If there is a religious aspect to the event, I would rather there be more denominations included,” Fitzwater said.
Fitzwater’s action in support of the separation of church and state has been expressed by others in the past. According to The Friendly Atheist, Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims once said,
“Each of us put our hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. We did not place our hands on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.”
Jamin Raskin, a former Maryland State Senator, said at a marriage equality hearing in 2006,
“People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution; they don’t put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.”
In 1997, Jesse Jackson, Jr, former congressman from Illinois, spoke out against a resolution that backed a Ten-Commandments-displaying judge,
“When I came here, I put my hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. I didn’t put my hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.”
Meet Jessica Fitzwater. She was awarded the National Education Association (NEA) 2014 Political Activist of the Year. In the following video, Fitzwater speaks about her activism,
h/t: The Friendly Atheist