Maryland City Council Member to Take Oath on Nonreligious Document

Jessica Fitzwater

The oath of office that Jessica Fitzwater will take, raising her right hand before family, friends and elected officials, will be the same as her fellow colleagues at the Maryland City Council, except the book under her left hand will not be a Bible.

Fitzwater is Jewish by birth but she said she does not see any reason in replacing the Bible with a Torah. Instead, she would rather take her oath of office on some government document, like the Frederick County charter, that symbolizes her commitment to public service.

“I think it's more appropriate to swear my oath on something I will be upholding. I'm not upholding the teachings of the Bible. I'm upholding the charter or the Constitution,” said Fitzwater, who will represent Council District 4.

Fitzwater, who has always favoured the separation of church and state, said only recently that she decided to take her oath of office on a nonreligious document. However, that does not mean her swearing in ceremony will be completely devoid of religion. The ceremony would include an invocation from a priest and a benediction from her own rabbi. Fitzwater said prayer would have been a part of the event, regardless of her preference.

“If there is a religious aspect to the event, I would rather there be more denominations included,” Fitzwater said.

Photo Credits: Jessica Fitzwater

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