A reader writes:
Pace Mr Prager, there has never been, and is no, requirement that a member of Congress put his hand on anything when taking the oath of office. There is nothing in the law requiring a member to do anything in particular with his hands. A member is free to put his hand on a Bible, on any other book or for that matter, to keep his hands at his sides or in his pockets or to make bunny shadows with them during the taking of the oath.
The very first law passed under the Constitution was enacted on June 1, 1789 (Statute I, Chapter 1 (1 Stat. 23)): "An Act to regulate the Time and Manner of administering certain Oaths." That law says nothing about what someone taking the oath of office is supposed to do with his hands; nor does it say anything about Bibles or any other books being involved in the process. That original law currently is disbursed in 2 U.S.C. Sections 21, et seq. and 5 U.S.C. Section 3331 and in none of these sections (nor in the Rules of the House of Representatives) is there any requirement about what one does with his hands.