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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke August 14, 2020

Kamala Harris used a Bible in ceremonial swearing-in

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  • U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris was sworn in using a Bible.

When a new Congress begins, newly elected and reelected senators are sworn in by the vice president. Photography is banned from the Senate chamber but after the official oath ceremony, senators re-enact the swearing-in ceremony. 

Historically, most members of Congress have sworn the oath on a copy of a Bible, though the Constitution doesn’t require it. A recent Facebook post claims that Sen. Kamala Harris was among the lawmakers who chose to use a different text instead.

"Kamala Harris refused to be sworn in using the Bible," the post says. 

It was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

But Harris, who became the first Indian-American senator and the first Black woman to represent California in the U.S. Senate in 2017, used a Bible for the re-enactment.

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"Vice President Joe Biden swears in Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, while her husband Doug Emhoff holds a long-kept family Bible," one caption says. 

Another photo shows Biden, now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and Harris’ running mate, shaking hands with the new senator while her husband "holds the Bible," the caption says

In this clip of the ceremonial swearing-in, Biden can be heard telling Harris to put her "left hand on the Bible." 

Growing up, Harris attended services at a Black Baptist church and a Hindu temple, according to the Associated Press. As an adult, she identifies as a Baptist "and brought another faith into her life in 2014," the story says, "when she married Douglas Emhoff, a Jewish attorney."

We rate this Facebook post False.


Our Sources

Facebook post, Aug. 12, 2020

U.S. Senate, When a new Congress begins, visited Aug. 14, 2020

U.S. Senate, The oath we take, visited Aug. 14, 2020

U.S. Senate, Oath of office, visited Aug. 14, 2020

PolitiFact, Ilhan Omar didn't break the law when she used a Quran to take the oath of office, Feb. 20, 2020

Pacific Standard, Using a Quran to swear in to Congress: A brief history of oaths and texts, Jan. 4, 2019 

KPBS, Kamala Harris sworn in to U.S. Senate, Jan. 3, 2017

Roll Call, Sen. Kamala Harris in pictures, Aug. 11, 2020

The Associated Press, Harris brings Baptist, interfaith roots to Democratic ticket, Aug. 11, 2020

C-SPAN, User clip: Kamala Harris sworn in by VP Biden, Jan. 3, 2017


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Kamala Harris used a Bible in ceremonial swearing-in

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