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Is Mike Pence Twisting This Bible Verse Out of Context for the Inauguration?

Vice President-elect Mike Pence will not just take the oath of office on President Ronald Reagan's Bible, he will also do so with his hand on Reagan's Bible verse. But using that verse at a vice presidential inauguration is arguably a twisting of the scripture's meaning.

In a press release this week, Pence announced he would be taking the oath with his hand not just on the Bible, but on a specific Bible verse. That verse is 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

In the context of an inauguration ceremony in the United States, this verse seems to promise that God will bless America if the people "humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways." This is inspiring, because God promises to hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

Reagan himself swore on that verse, but there's a big problem with doing so — that verse is emphatically not about the United States of America. In fact, if it were, the passage which promises God's forgiveness and healing would also condemn the United States to defeat and exile at the hands of foreigners.

Interpreting scripture is all about three things: context, context, and context. 2 Chronicles 7 isn't describing a vague promise from God to an undefined people He would adopt in 1776 A.D. — it's about King Solomon's dedication of the Temple, and God's promises to Solomon specifically. Furthermore, not all of those promises are as upbeat as the verse above.