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Kamala Harris rested hand on Bibles, not a purse, during oath

January 21, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: When Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn into office on Wednesday, she placed a black clutch purse on top of the Bible so she wouldn’t have to touch the holy book.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Photos of the swearing-in ceremony from a different angle show that Harris rested her hand on a Bible, not a purse. The vice president used two Bibles for her oath, one owned by a close family friend and one that belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.


THE FACTS: On Thursday, social media users were sharing a photo from Wednesday’s inauguration ceremony along with claims that Harris avoided touching the Bible during her oath of office. 

The photo showed Harris with her right hand up and her left hand resting on an unidentified black item, reciting her oath of office. The black item rested on top of a thick Bible, both held by Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff.

“She couldn’t even bring herself to touch that Bible,” read one Facebook post viewed more than 35,000 times. 

“Do you all need it spelled out for you?” read another widely shared post. “A believer in Christ couldn’t wait to hold that Bible..A Satanist Cannot Touch It! Notice he has gloves... She has her clutch bag on top of it!”

But the black item on top of the larger Bible was another Bible, as photos from a different angle confirmed. Therefore, Harris was in fact resting her hand on a Bible during the swearing-in ceremony.

That’s confirmed by reporting from the Associated Press, which explained that Harris used two Bibles during her oath.

One belonged to Regina Shelton, a family friend whose Bible Harris swore on when becoming attorney general of California and later senator. The other belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court justice.


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: