Yesterday US President Barack Obama’s inauguration was held on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, DC. It marked the start of his second term in office.
Half a world away, Chinese people were glued to the ceremony. They’ve recently seen their own leadership transition, and it was a completely different affair.
This particular part of Obama's inauguration caught the attention of Chinese netizens.
As the President placed his left hand on the Bible, he swore to protect and defend the US Constitution.
To the Chinese public, living in an officially atheist country, the role of religion in establishing the rule of law is thought provoking.
Weibo user by the name of Wugou1975 has more than 50,000 followers. He noted that Obama’s oath was given to a court justice, not Congress. He swore on the Bible, not the constitution.
He wrote, quote, “this is the secret of America’s constitutional democracy: It’s not just the Constitution or the government’s ‘separation of powers.’ Above that is natural law, guarded by a grand justice. And below is a community of Christians, unified by their belief.”
Another Weibo user wrote “If Chinese officials were to swear an oath of office, what would they swear on?”
China’s ruling Communist Party is officially atheist. While it does allow non-Party members to be religious, worship can only be done in state-sanctioned establishments. Outside of these, religious followers are suppressed and persecuted.
The moral fabric of Communist officials, and the society at large, has also been weighing on the Chinese public. A string of corruption scandals, and social tragedies have led to periods of soul searching.
A Weibo user comments, quote, “a country without religion is a country in chaos. A nation without belief is one where deceit becomes the norm.”
Obama’s inauguration became one of the trending topics on Sina Weibo. In all, more than 25 million on the subject flooded the space.
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