On Thursday, Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema broke with convention when she didn’t select a religious book for her oath of office ceremony. Instead of a Bible, Torah, Quran, or other religious text, Sinema opted for a law book from the Library of Congress that contained copies of both the United States and Arizona constitutions.
Even though Sinema chose a law book, her oath went forward in the traditional manner. At the end of the oath, Vice President Mike Pence used the standard wording, “so help you God?”
Sinema replied, “I do.”
Pence then went on to assert that he looks forward to working with her as a member of the Senate.
“Kyrsten always gets sworn in on a Constitution simply because of her love for the Constitution,” said John LaBombard, a spokesman for Sinema.
While Sinema took a nontraditional route, she wasn’t shirking the law. There is no legal requirement to use a religious text or even any book at all.
Officially, according to a report by The Arizona Republic, Sinema identifies herself as religiously unaffiliated. She is the only member of Congress to label themselves as such.
The decision to use a law book instead of a religious text may only add fuel to the speculation that Sinema is an atheist, though she has never confirmed that to be true.
However, this isn’t the first time Sinema made that choice. In 2013, when she first joined Congress as a member of the House, she opted for a copy of the Constitution as well.
Some welcomed Sinema’s decision, asserting that her choice is a sign of religious independence.
A statement on the Friendly Atheist website said that it was “nice to see a government official show people that her allegiance is to our county and our laws, not a holy book or the Ten Commandments.”
Sinema became the first openly bisexual member of the House when she was originally elected to Congress and is also the first openly bisexual member of the Senate. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin who is a lesbian, is the first openly LGBTQ person to be elected to the Senate.
Newly-elected senators, including former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, are sworn into Congress by Vice President Mike Pence. https://t.co/fBg4gwrQf2
— ABC News (@ABC) January 3, 2019