Historically, most CIA directors have taken their oaths on the Bible, but according to a report by msnbc that wasn't the case for our new Director of the CIA, John Brennan. Instead of the Bible, he was sworn in with his hand on an original draft of the Constitution.
Oath taken on Constitution instead of Bible
On March 8, 2013, Brennan was sworn in as the new Director of the CIA in a private ceremony held in the Roosevelt Room of the White House by Vice President Joe Biden. The draft of the Constitution used instead of the Bible includes the personal handwriting and annotations of George Washington dating back to 1787. It was Brennan's decision to take his oath on the Constitution instead of the Bible.
“Director Brennan told the president that he made the request to the archives because he wanted to reaffirm his commitment to the rule of law as he took the oath of office as director of the CIA." – White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest
The point some conservatives make regarding the use of the 1787 draft of the Constitution is that it does not contain the Bill of Rights — which was introduced in 1789 and ratified in 1791 according to Fox News. One conservative blog, emptywheel.com even suggests that using a copy of the Constitution that does not include the Bill of Rights actually invalidates Brennan's oath to protect and defend the Constitution.
Others sworn in without using a Bible in the past
While most politicians place there hand on the Bible when sworn into office, Brennan is not alone in his choice. Historically, there is no record of a Bible being used from George Washington's second inauguration through the inauguration of John Quincy Adams. That does not mean the Bible wasn't used, but that there is no written record of a Bible being used.
In the same way, the only surviving record of John Tyler's swearing in is an affidavit that does not mention a Bible. Tyler was the first Vice President to assume the office of Presidency following a President's death.
The Presidential Oath of Office was administered to Franklin Pierce by the Honorable Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the United States with no record of a Bible. In fact some say he affirmed his oath of office on a law book.
No Bible was used at Theodore Roosevelt's first swearing-in, and Calvin Coolidge did not place his hand on the Bible when sworn in by his father, nor did Rutherford B. Hayes when sworn in in March of 1877. In more modern times, JFK did not place his hand on the Bible, and when Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in aboard Air Force One, following Kennedy's assassination, he put his hand on Jacqueline Kennedy's Catholic Missal since no Bible could be found on board the plane. Most recently, President Barack Obama did not use a Bible at his "do-over" ceremony with Chief Justice John Roberts. However, when he started his second term he swore on a family Bible, one of Martin Luther King's Bibles, and President Lincoln's Bible.
"But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; or by the earth, because it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Neither should you swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. But let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’Anything more than this is from the evil one (Matthew 5:34-37 HCSB)
Jesus said we shouldn't even take an oath. The words "so help me God" are not part of the official presidential oath, and it is not required by the Constitution that an oath of office be sworn on the Bible. Could conservatives be reading more into the Brennan swearing in ceremony than reality dictates? Possibly, but time and performance of his duties will answer that question for sure. According to God's Word he just needs to be a man of his word.