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President Obama taking the oath of office on two bibles today the first used by president Abraham Lincoln the other.
Belonging to Martin Luther King Jr.
my next guest says the choice not only underscores the president's legacy as the first black president -- also be read -- -- Joining us now is -- of growth he's professor of American religion at Boston University author of the American Bible.
Our word -- nine divide and define a nation and professors great to have you here.
-- family if your reaction to.
To the rhetoric -- I was talking about this.
Just a couple of -- by may.
We have never relinquished.
He said our skepticism.
Of central authority.
If we could put this -- to -- show what are reading -- we have never relinquish our skepticism of central authority nor are we succumb to the fiction.
The all society's ills can be cured through government a law.
He also well -- I just found it stunning that personal who was at that thinks the government alone could.
Solve our ills.
Our skepticism a central authority doesn't put any and evidence.
I would just fascinated the way he used language in this.
What are your reactions were -- reactions to a speech.
Well I thought the speech you know I'm probably gonna disagree -- -- do you have at this -- kind of surprisingly conservative in the sense that it's starting with Thomas Jefferson -- the declaration that moved.
Through Lincoln and into -- Martin Luther King and I think that that those two bibles the choices of those.
Where appropriate in the sense that.
He's trying to read Lincoln and saying that America is founded on the proposition that all men are created equal movement and he's -- king has extending that proposition two.
Questions of race and then he's moving beyond that.
I'm himself to say the equality proposition is what America's all about we've seen and it's and it falls -- women's rights and we've seen that it Selma with civil rights than we've seen that it.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- our guess what it was striking to me is he acted as though of the civil rights movement hadn't happened.
That he was the first one to sort of take note of -- Of of the many flaws that make up the American experience.
But he did not seize the opportunity to reach you were talking about a religious.
Impetus within his words.
I couldn't find an embrace there for the entire country his political opponents nor the achievements are the the men and women upon whose shoulders he stands.
As the president of the United States but to think well -- extraordinary historical journey professor.
And to ignore that seems to mean well lacking a certain generosity of spirit.
I didn't think ignored the history I think he stood in a in a tradition in the United States that goes back to the puritans and runs through to Jefferson and Lincoln and through king.
That that you know the this idea even in the constitution that they're being a more perfect union that implies that the United States is never quite perfect.
We're always trying to make things better and we -- to do it in keeping with our original principles and this is where he was going back to.
The ideas in the declaration and and back to you know our greatest president the Republican president Abraham Lincoln and I think he was trying to channel that.
And then push it forward into specific policies for it today -- of course -- through the lens of his interpretation.
Do you have a sense of the future that he envisions as a result of today's speech.
Well I think the speech today it was really about equality you know was saying it was saying that lake it was right when Lincoln said.
That the United States is dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal and you know that was a pretty radical thing that Lincoln did in the Gettysburg address that wasn't something.
Most Americans thought you know in the constitution was written as -- -- we had slavery and it wasn't an idea that we had racial equality.
But Lincoln read that as.
A forward looking idea that we were when he wrote that we have equality to all races.
But what he wrote that he was standing on the shoulders of those who had founded this nation who had written.
The declaration of that it -- had written the constitution.
And by the way professor.
-- the professor of religion and I am a mirror television host.
But equality was fundamental.
Indeed -- both documents and by the way the country's history by -- -- Professor there I usually chanting I'm sorry very quickly.
Ally as -- they've always -- this tension between equality and liberty and our founding documents I think I think he had his speech today was trying to push us and equality direction.
And about liberty are we through forgo forswear.
While I don't think so I think about it I think I have a professor and -- certainly we're gonna have about have you back to world continue the conversation that we appreciate it -- to talk with.
Thank you Steven -- throw much more.
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