My New Favorite Elected Official

Jessica Fitzwater just became my favorite elected official in the country. She was just elected to the county council in Frederick County, Maryland and is refusing to be sworn in on the Bible because, she says, that isn’t the document she was elected to uphold and follow.

On Dec. 1, Jessica Fitzwater will raise her right hand and take the same oath of office as her fellow incoming council members.

But there will be one difference in her pledge before friends, family and elected officials: The book under her left hand will not be the Bible.

Fitzwater, who is Jewish, said she’s not interested in replacing the Bible with a Torah. Instead, she is thinking of taking the oath on the Frederick County charter or some other government document that will represent her commitment to public service.

“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,” said Fitzwater, who will represent Council District 4.

Bravo! Cue the Christian right freakout in 3…2…1…

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  • D. C. Sessions
  • Modusoperandi

    I mean, that’s bad enough, but she’s not even planning to open meetings with a non-sectarian, non-denominational prayer about Protestant Jesus! What is this country coming to? It’s getting to the point where I can only find my religion supported, respected and enshrined almost everywhere!

  • tfkreference

    But but but … I read that the Constitution is based on the bible. Why else would the first amendment and first commandment both address the same topic?

    Seriously, this is the best approach to the issue. My rep is Keith Ellison, whose use of the Koran incited the dumbest reaction – I mean, who would want someone swearing on a book they don’t believe in? Founding documents, in contrast, should be important to everyone elected to support them.

  • dan4

    I always thought it would make more sense if the whole “elected official swearing in on the Bible” business was controversial in the exact opposite direction. That is to say, Christians would be offended that non-Christians would be swearing in on their holy book.

  • John Pieret

    How can we know they are serious about their oath unless they place their hand on some paper wrapped in cloth or leather and cardboard? No one would lie once they did that, would they?


    In the courts I practice in, there has been little or no use of Bibles for swearing in the almost 40 years I’ve practiced. There has been no noticeable increase or decrease in lying.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Christians would be offended that non-Christians would be swearing in on their holy book.

    They are. Not because of the book, but because they’re not Christians.

  • colnago80

    Re tfkreference @ #3

    Even better, Ellison used a Qur’an owned by Thomas Jefferson.

  • dan4

    @6: Except that they usually aren’t and the “offense” usually goes in the opposite direction of the words you quoted from me. Example: All the wailing and gnashing of teeth when Congressman Keith Ellison swore on a Koran instead of a Bible, even though it was well known that Ellison is a Muslim.

  • Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy


    A lot of Christians aren’t thinking that the Bible is there because it’s what matters most to the oath-taker (in which case we should have people swearing by their parents’ graves, and their love for their children, and their favorite football teams). They’re thinking that the physical book is inherently magic, and its power will compel truth/oath-keeping whether or not the person swearing believes in it.

  • Akira MacKenzie

    Why do we even have to swear an oath of any kind for any reason?

  • Chiroptera

    She better be careful. She might be arrested by a sheriff from a completely different county!

  • marcus

    Obviously, a person should be able to affirm their good intent, when taking a public office, on any document or personal object that has meaning to them. I do admire those who, upon taking public office, make their affirmations to uphold the Constitution while holding up the Constitution.

  • busterggi

    “They’re thinking that the physical book is inherently magic”

    The Power of Public Domain compels you!

  • matty1

    @10 Is it because magic words are the only way to be sure someone will do what they are legally required to do anyway?

  • http://dontlinkmebro F [i’m not here, i’m gone]

    I don’t even understand why one would swear or affirm on anything. It’s a senseless bit of ritual. As if it would magically strike one dead right there if they were lying.

  • Modusoperandi

    They have to use a bible, or you know it’s meaningless. I mean, my father swore he’d turn this car around, but he never did. Why? No bible.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I don’t even understand why one would swear or affirm on anything. It’s a senseless bit of ritual.

    And if you perjure yourself, the fact that you went through that ritual leaves you very little excuse. It’s a verbal contract before witnesses, if you will. Don’t underrate ritual — it’s a powerful social binding.

  • eddiejones

    @Vicky #9

    We should use Wonder Woman’s lasso….

  • Childermass

    What someone swears on is ceremonial. What they swear to do is what matters.

    If someone wants to swear on their Bible, good for them. If they want swear on their college calculus book, good for them. If they want swear on their favorite novel, good for them. If they want to swear on a junior chemistry set, good for them. If the just want to swear without a prop then good for them. If they don’t like swearing and want to affirm then good for them. I don’t see why anyone cares.

  • forestdragon

    Because [sings] ‘TRADITIOOOOON!!!’

  • steve oberski

    Vicki @9

    But I guess those xtians can’t think their magic book is all that powerful if the oath taker actually has to stroke it while mumbling an incantation.