Mo. Councilwoman Takes Oath of Office on Dr. Seuss Book Instead of Bible

Photo Credit: Hillary Levin/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — A newly-elected councilwoman for the County Council of St. Louis was sworn into office earlier this month on a copy of a Dr. Seuss book rather than the Bible as she believed that its message represents her new journey. Her decision sparked opposition from some who found her actions to be blasphemous.

Kelli Dunaway, a Democrat and a single mother of two, took the oath of office on Aug. 13 with her hand upon the book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.” Her children held a copy of the book as she raised her other hand in the air.

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!” the book reads. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Dunaway told reporters that her selection of the book has a personal significance as her mother, who worked as a coal miner in raising her as a single mother, told her that if she worked hard and had faith in herself, she could do whatever she set her mind to.

“In my experience in life, that’s been true,” she told the Washington Post.

Dunaway said that with the day also being her children’s first day of school, she likewise thought the book was fitting.

“My kids are my only family in St. Louis, and I wanted them to feel part of this,” she explained to the outlet. “They’re making sacrifices to be part of public service, too, and [the book] has an empowering message.”

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Dunaway told ABC News that she plans to live by that message while in office.

“I am going to do my best every day to do what’s right for everybody. I believe we are better than our current political climate might suggest and I will always be working to make that better, and I’ll do the work,” she said. “That’s the message of the book, right? If you have brains in your head and you have feet in your shoes, you do what you do.”

Response to Dunaway’s oath-taking selection has been mixed. When Dunaway took to social media on Aug. 17 in posting an op-ed from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about her swearing-in, some praised her and others expressed objection.

“I love you even more for doing this!” one commenter wrote. “You continue to impress me with your strength and determination. What a role model.”

“Congratulations on your victory. A bigger congratulations on your choice of literature. Dr Seuss has far more value than the traditional choice!” another opined.

“If you read the Bible, you would be well informed of ‘oh, the places you will go’! This is a mockery of this position and the elected and appointed people’s responsibilities. Embarrassing and disrespectful,” a third commenter lamented.

“I respect your right to choose whatever you want, but bottom line, there is no future without God,” another exhorted. “That’s exactly why the world is in the shape it’s in. We’ve rejected God in favor of self. What an awful choice. He still pursues us, even in our ignorance.”

“I feel sorry for the city of St. Louis. When you leave God out of the equation, … you are leaving yourself open to decline,” one said.

Dunaway said that she understands those who have expressed objection, but disagrees.

“I understand it,” she told the Washington Post. “A lot of people believe that without God, there can be no morality, and I just don’t agree with that.”

According to Scriptures in 2 Corinthians 5:15, “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again.”

Verses 9-10 state, “Wherefore we labor that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

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