Three of four newly elected members of the Manlius, N.Y., Town Board opted to take their oaths of office on a book containing the town codes last month.
The three--John Deer, Elaine Denton and Heather Waters--put a hand on the codes book during their Dec. 30 swearing in. The fourth new member, Katelyn Kriesel, chose to stick with the Bible, reported the news site Syracuse.com.
Deer, Denton and Waters, who are all Democrats, said they had various reasons for using the codes book. Deer said he is an atheist who believes in separation of church and state, and Denton said using a legal book just seemed right for her.
Waters said she wanted to use a neutral book. In an interview with Church & State, she said, "I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to swear in on before the ceremony. I thought if it were about reflecting who I am, maybe a work by Fayetteville suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage. But I also thought maybe a text wasn't necessary. And if I had one on hand, I suppose I would have chosen New York state's constitution over our codes book--a binder with some flapping yellow Post-it notes.
"I knew I would not choose the Bible because I believe that it confuses people about our commitment to the separation of the practice of one's individual faith and our participation in government," she added. "Also, it is not inclusive. The Bible is not every one of my constituents' holy text, and I want someone to gauge...