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Photo Credit: White House/ David Lienemann
Photo Credit: White House/ David Lienemann
Photo Credit: White House/ David Lienemann
Photo Credit: White House/ David Lienemann

Did you spot these Christian references in President Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony?

by Tola Mbakwe

President Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday in an inaugural ceremony some people claim shows he's a man of faith. 

While faith does play a role in important American ceremonies, Christian historian and writer Martyn Whittock told Premier Mr Biden's was "very striking". 

"I think what happened was far beyond simply those formalities," he said.

"The poem by Amanda Gorman, referring to light, braving the belly of the beast [referring to] Jonah and the whale, people being under their vine and fig tree unafraid, and looking for redemption. In that amazing poem there were lots and lots of scriptural references and Christian connections, which is quite extraordinary."

A prayer by Fr Leo O'Donovan mentioned confessing sin, looking for renewal, being committed to care, and calling for the wisdom of Solomon.

Meanwhile, at the end of the ceremony, the benediction by Rev Dr Silvester Beaman called on the holiness of God, petitioned for God's favour, social justice, forgiveness and reconciliation,  as well as another reference to the vine and fig tree parables.

Country singer Garth Brooks also sang the hymn Amazing Grace. 

"Biden really believes this," Whittock said. "This isn't just posturing."

Mr Biden also had references to Christian themes in his inaugural speech. There were many mentions of healing, reconciliation, and transformation. 

"And I promise you that this, as the Bible said, weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning. We will get through this together, together," the new president said. 

He also quoted the theologian Augustine when he said "a nation is a multitude of rational beings united by the common objects of their love". 

"These are similarly the kinds of references that we found pick up picked up elsewhere in the inauguration," Whittock added. 

"He clearly is a man of profound and sincere Christian faith.  This was a man genuinely reaching out to America and saying we've got to get together, we've got to overcome this."

Mr Biden was sworn into office with his hand placed on a Bible that's been in his family for 121 years. 

Ever since 1809, every incoming president has attended church before being inaugurated. Mr Biden attended Mass at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington DC with his family and high-ranking members of Congress. 

On Thursday he will take part in his first inaugural prayer meeting this afternoon. Washington Cathedral will host the virtual National Prayer Service where Bishop William Barber II will preach. Mr Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will join from the White House.

Listen to Premier's interview with Martyn Whittock here: 

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