Faith

Troll-Level, Master: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Takes Oath on a Whole Stack of Bibles

Mike DeWine is sworn in as the 70th Governor of Ohio alongside his wife Fran, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Cedarville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, Pool)

In a bit of a break from tradition, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, in a ceremony performed just after midnight on Monday, took the oath of office not on a single Bible, but on a whole stack of them.

All of the nine Bibles have sentimental meaning to the DeWine family — one was acquired in Jerusalem, another was given to the governor by his wife on their 10th wedding anniversary, and one was the childhood Bible of the DeWines’ late daughter, Becky, who died in a car accident in 1993. There were also Bibles belonging to DeWine’s mother, aunt, grandfather, grandmother, and great-grandmother, along with a study Bible that was a gift from Lloyd Ogilvie, chaplain of the U.S. Senate, and Mike and Fran DeWine’s personal family Bible

The stack of Bibles is in sharp contrast to recent news of newly minted members of Congress taking their oaths on Korans and law textbooks. 

DeWine, a devout Catholic, was officially sworn in at a private ceremony at his family home in Cedarville, Ohio, early Monday morning, surrounded by his family and a small group of public officials. “We have all of our kids and most of our grandkids here,” DeWine said, “so this is really a family event.” His wife Fran interrupted: “There are a couple more asleep upstairs.”

“You may wonder why all these Bibles are here,” DeWine said before the ceremony.

Fran explained, “We had a lot of other Bibles that are family Bibles and I just decided, well, I’m going to get them all out and that way each of the kids can have one.” The DeWines have seven surviving children.

“So this bottom one here is Becky’s Bible when she was a little girl,” Fran DeWine said. She then described the significance of each book on the stack.

The 72-year-old DeWine, the oldest person ever to serve as Ohio’s governor, was sworn in by his son Pat, an Ohio Supreme Court justice, with the family dog underfoot. The DeWines’ granddaughter, Caroline Darling, sang a hymn, “Down in the River to Pray,” which the governor said is “one of our favorite songs.” Prayers were led by the DeWines’ parish priest and by Fr. Tom Hagan, who founded the Becky DeWine School in Haiti. He donned a stole made by Fran from some of Becky’s dresses.

Immediately after DeWine was sworn in, he walked over to his desk and signed a flurry of executive orders:

  • Executive Order 2019-01D, Creating the RecoveryOhio Initiative;
  • Executive Order 2019-02D, Creating the Children’s Initiative;
  • Executive Order 2019-03D, Establishing Ohio as a Disability Inclusion State and Model Employer of Individuals with Disabilities;
  • Executive Order 2019-04D, Elevating Foster Care Priorities in Ohio;
  • Executive Order 2019-06D, Elevating Prevention within the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
  • Executive Order 2019-05D, Anti-Discrimination Policy in State Government;

That last one — which extends job protections to transgender individuals and others with various “statuses” —  seems an unlikely priority for Ohio’s 70th governor and raises concerns about whether he will be proactive about protecting religious liberty in the state.

“The next Executive Order is anti-discrimination in state government. We are taking the things that are already in place now and repeating those again because I am now the governor. They went out of existence at twelve o’clock and we are putting them right back in,” DeWine said. “In addition to the ones that are currently in we are adding as statuses that you cannot discriminate against someone because of pregnancy, you cannot discriminate against someone because they have a young child in employment, and you cannot discriminate against someone because they are a foster parent.”

DeWine later attended a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse, surrounded by all of Ohio’s living former governors.

DeWine has been in politics since age 25 and has served in the U.S. House and Senate as well as a variety of offices in Ohio. He was most recently Ohio’s attorney general.

“We will be fierce and passionate advocates and defenders of the defenseless,” DeWine vowed on Twitter. “We will bring people together. We will seek out many opinions and ideas. We will work hand-in-hand with local government and community leaders.”

“Family is everything. Education is key to equality & opportunity,” the newly installed governor tweeted. “And everyone – no matter where they were born or who their parents are – deserves the chance to succeed, to get a good-paying job, to raise a family comfortably, and to be secure in their future.”