The Only Three US Presidents Who Didn't Swear In On The Bible

The separation of church and state has always been a tighrope since the United States became an independent nation. According to Pew Research, every state constitution references "God" or "The Divine" while the U.S. Constitution does not. While more than half of the country believe that it is important that the president should hold strong religious beliefs, more than 75% of the nation believes that houses of worship should not endorse candidates during elections and 63% believe they should stay out of politics altogether.

Clearly, it is a balancing act for how much or little do the American people want religion in the nation. So far, only two American presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson, did not belong to a specific religious denomination. However, like most other presidents, the two were sworn in with a hand on the Bible. In the history of the U.S., only three presidents have not placed a hand on the Bible during their inauguration. It is a tradition that started with the nation's first commander-in-chief, George Washington, and has continued to this day, as told by Town & Country Magazine. Two of the three did not have much of a choice but to go through the ceremony without the book of faith.

Assassinations lead Theodore Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson to not use a Bible

Understadibly, assassinations lead to issues in putting together the pageantry of an inauguration ceremony. The inauguration is a matter of national emergency. For Theodore Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson (above), the assassination of each man's predecessor forced them to buck tradition in order to speed up the transition of power.

According to Town & Country Magazine, President William McKinley was shot in 1901 and would live for a week before succumbing to his wounds. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was hiking in the Adirondack Mountains when he received word that President McKinley would not survive. Roosevelt quickly made his way to Buffalo where the wounded president was being kept. He arrived 12 hours after McKinley's death, meaning the U.S. went half a day without a president. In a rush to be sworn in, Roosevelt was inaugurated in the home of a friend without a Bible.

In 1963, Lyndon Johnson was forced to be sworn in on Air Force One. Traveling with President John Kennedy to Dallas, Texas, Johnson's home state, Kennedy was shot and pronounced dead at 1 p.m. on November 22. About 90 minutes later, Johnson, with widowed Jackie Kennedy next to him, took the oath of office with his hand not on a Bible, but on a Catholic missal, a book containing the rites for Catholic mass. The book was President Kennedy's, found in his bedroom on the plane.

John Quincy Adams becomes the first president not to use a Bible

According to History, James Monroe was the first president to hold his inauguration outdoors so the public could witness the ceremony and give his inaugural address to the audience. President Monroe's tenure saw five states enter the union and the issuing of the Monroe Doctrine, warning European powers from colonizing the Western Hemisphere. However, political assassination was not a part of his legacy. So come the end of his tenure and the election of John Quincy Adams in the 1824 election, Adams had the time, unlike Roosevelt and Johnson, to have a Bible at his inauguration.

But he did not. Instead, according to the Joint Congressional Commission on Inaugural Ceremonies, President Adams was sworn in on a law book instead of a religious book of any kind. As told by CNN, the reason was that he wanted to emphasize the separation between the church and the state and that his loyalties were to the law over a religion. This is despite the fact that Adams was a very religious man. Adams' inauguration was also remembered for another reason: He was the first president to wear pants instead of knee breeches, the New England Historical Society reports.