The act of placing your hand on the bible and swearing to tell the truth is merely a superstitious act mandated to instill apprehension amongst those who are believers. However, this process may not accomplish anything if a non-believer places his/her hand on the bible for obvious reasons. Moreover, I can speculate that religious individuals have probably lied after swearing on the bible.
That anyone would feel more compelled to tell the truth because they touched a book or document. Such superstition has no rational basis. It is also laughable to believe that someone is telling the truth because they said they would while touching a book. If it is already within a person's moral code to always tell the truth, swearing on a Bible is not going to change that, and the same is true for those with different morals, unless they are very superstitious. Having people swear on a Bible on the off-chance that they are very superstitious does not seem to be appropriate for a secular court.
With any revered document of choice.
I would put my hand on the constitution and feel more compelled than if I put my hand on a bible.
Why would a non-believer feel any more compelled to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, if they don't value to document used for the swearing in.
Case and point, each witness should be asked in advance what document they would like to swear to.
The bible has nothing to do with the U.S. government. So why is this act practiced. If you had a non-believer in the courtroom, it would be easy for he/she to swear on the bible and it wouldn't mean anything to the non-believer. Would they let a Muslim swear on the Qu'ran? A Jew on the Torah? A Hindu on the Vedas? A Buddhist on the Tipitaka? Why on the bible? If they are to swear on any text is should a true american one, the Constitution of the United States.
Superstitions and faiths are being debunked, one at a time, slowly but surely. Modern secular government and court should not cling to the backwards and barbaric practices of the past. Religion/superstition has no place in public life, much less in a courtroom over matters as important as testimony. It shouldn't continue.
No. But other meaningful books and (copies of) manuscripts can be used! The Bible can be used, a Quran, A Torah, some other religious text, a copy of the U.S. Constitution. I believe all of these items can be use to communicate to a person his legal obligation to tell the truth inside the courtroom to best of his or her knowledge.
Legal penalties (such as fines, prison sentences, and other punitive measures) are handed out by the courts upon conviction. Therefore it's a constitutional and moral obligation for a witness to tell the truth and this enormous legal responsibility has to be communicated to the witness in an effective manner.
Any item that compels the speaker to give an honest account of the situation should be allowed in the courtroom. If it's a bible, a quran, the constitution, the Torah, your fathers ashes, or whatever, let it be. The entire purpose is to put some emphasis on the idea that your words will have consequences and you'll be held accountable.
Since to a large degree neither placing one's hand on a bible nor swearing an oath to some deity is compulsory in any 20th or 21st century Western Democracy, the act is almost always voluntary. Americans, for example, have the option of affirming any testimony and may refuse to touch any of the traditional magical objects associated with making promises. Therefore, the act of swearing and/or the use of the bible are always an assertion of freedom of speech and protected by the First Amendment. Any requirement to conform to popular practice has already been removed by the Constitution.