A Missouri county official is being both celebrated and attacked after a decision to forgo The Bible for her swearing-in ceremony and opted for a copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss.
The Friendly Atheist at Patheos captured the story, posting a photo of St. Louis City Councilmember Kelli Dunaway’s children holding a copy of the book while she took her oath of office.
This was the scene last week at the STLCO government center. Democrats took back control of the council and @DunawayKelli was sworn in on a copy of “Oh the Places you’ll go” with her children❤️ so proud to be part of #TeamKelli pic.twitter.com/iJ1dxfZ1Zg
— Brian Wingbermuehle (@winger_brian) August 16, 2019
Dunaway won the seat with about 60 percent of the vote, delivering control of the St. Louis City Council back to the Democrats. The election also delivered a first-time female majority to the council.
Dunaway is non-religious, and there’s no rule against using another book for a swearing-in ceremony. In fact, the United States Constitution states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States” in Article VI, section 3. At least four presidents haven’t used a Bible for their swearing-in oath, John Quincy Adams, Franklin Pierce, Theodore Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, who was sworn in on a Roman Catholic missal.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote in an editorial that it’s certainly an excellent book to choose.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go,” Seuss wrote in the book.
In a Facebook post, Dunaway explained the reason she chose the book was it followed so much of her campaign’s message about the future.
“It’s the same reason you all believe in me and our campaign… because I see a brighter future for all of us and am steering myself in the direction of building it!” she wrote.