Vice President-elect Kamala Harris‘ family Bible is going to be a central part of her swearing-in ceremony at the Inauguration today. But what religion is Harris and what does she believe?
A Family Bible Will Be Part of Her Ceremony
Two Bibles will be part of Harris’ swearing-in ceremony — the Shelton Family Bible and the Bible used by the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Mercury News reported.
The Shelton Family Bible has close family friend Regina Shelton’s name engraved in the lower right corner. Shelton cared for Harris and her sister Maya when they were children and their mother had to work late.
Saniyyah Smith, Shelton’s granddaughter, told Mercury News that the Bible will remind Harris to stay grounded.
“I’m just so proud of her and so grateful to be able to see how she continues to honor my grandmother’s legacy,” she said.
Harris has taken her oaths using the Shelton Bible many times. Her oath as San Francisco District Attorney in 2004 was taken on the Bill of Rights, but her oaths since then have used the family Bible, Mercury News reported. In 2017 she used this Bible to be sworn into the Senate, and she used it in 2011 and 2015 when she was sworn in as Attorney General of California.
Harris Had a Christian Upbringing
While President-elect Joe Biden is known for his Catholic faith, Harris identifies with the Baptist faith, USA Today reported. She said that when she was growing up, she attended both a Baptist church and a Hindu temple. Today she attends the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco.
One of her favorite New Testament verses reminds her to “walk by faith and not by sight,” Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) reported.
She told IFYC: “On Sundays, my mother would dress my sister, Maya, and me in our Sunday best and send us off to the 23rd Avenue Church of God in Oakland, California, where Maya and I sang in the children’s choir. That’s where I formed some of my earliest memories of the Bible’s teachings. It’s where I learned that ‘faith’ is a verb.”
Her mother was Hindu, her father Christian, and she is married to a Jewish man, so she brings a unique multifaith background to her role, IFYC reported.
“My mother, an immigrant from India, instilled the same idea (of faith as a verb) in me on trips to Hindu temples,” she said. “And I’ve also seen it reflected in the Jewish traditions and celebrations I now share with my husband, Doug… I’ve learned that faith is not only something we express in church and prayerful reflection, but also in the way we live our lives, do our work and pursue our respective callings.”
She told IFYC that the God she believes in is a loving God who “asks us to serve others and speak up for others.” She said her desire for public service stems from the parable of the Good Samaritan. And she added later that church, for her, is a palace where she draws strength and reflects.
As far as the Biden administration, she told IFYC: “Religious freedom and tolerance have been core principles of this country since our founding, and Joe and I will uphold and protect them — while protecting believers of all faiths.”