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Six electors, five Bibles, a moment in time

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The five Bibles (above) that the members of the Electoral College brought for Monday’s ceremony. (AMP photo by Shelby Styron)

Six electors, five Bibles, five stories.

For an instant on Monday, though, the personal stories of the five Bibles intersected. For a moment, these five Bibles shared a moment. Wherever the Bibles have been, wherever they go, each now has this event etched on its timeline, embossed in the gold of history like a name imprinted on the cover.

The six electors had gathered in the old Arkansas Supreme Court room on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, as federal law prescribes. The electors were there because of what had occurred on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November ~ that would be the United States general election for president ~ which determines the candidate for which the electors are to vote. They brought a Bible on which each pledged to honor the choice that Arkansas voters made on November 8.

In turn, each elector stood before the bench in the state’s old Supreme Court, on the second floor of the state capitol, south end. Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood administered the oaths.

The idea to bring personal Bibles was Jonathan Barnett’s. “My parents gave me this one,” said Mr. Barnett, who served as chairman of the electors. Mr. Barnett, who is from Siloam Springs, showed me the page that records the “Presented To” part of the Bible’s history. His mother presented it to him on Christmas Day 1967, which makes the Bible almost a half-century old. Mr. Barnett showed me the pictures and the maps and his notes with the enthusiasm of a 12-year-old boy on Christmas Day. “It’s the King James Version.”

Sharon Wright’s is King James, too. Large print. “That Bible belonged to my daddy,” said Mrs. Wright, who guesses it is at least 25 years old. Her father, Carroll Brown, died in 1999 at the age of sixty. “He was a preacher. It was his study Bible. That was a Bible he used thoroughly. There are all kinds of markings in the Bible. It’s highlighted. Some pages are very, very worn.”

Mrs. Wright’s daughter, Rachel Moore, held her grandfather’s Bible for her mother’s swearing in.

Vacation Bible school and Sunday school bookmarks from Jonelle Fulmer’s Bible.

Mrs. Wright, who lives in Hope, keeps the Bible on her night stand. “It’s the one I use.”

John Nabholz brought his late mother’s St. Joseph Edition of the New American Bible, which she bought in the early 1950s after she married Mr. Nabholz’s father and converted to Catholicism. “My mother was a life-long learner,” he said. “She studied her whole life. This was the Bible she used as a study Bible. It is filled with notes and clippings.”

Jonelle Fulmer bought her Bible about 20 years ago to replace the Bible her church had given her when she turned six. After the vote, Mrs. Fulmer pulled treasures from the Bible, a New American Standard: bookmarks her now-adult children made in Vacation Bible school and Sunday school

“It’s my personal Bible. I have notes in the margins. I’d had one that I’d had since childhood, and it was falling apart.

Keith Gibson forgot his, so he had to borrow one.

Tommy Land brought his every-day Bible “It’s a personal-use Bible,” Mr. Land said.”I intend to leave it to my children and grandchildren. When I get home, I’ll put this up.”

Bibles in hand, Arkansas’s Republican members of the Electoral College stood for a photograph in the old Supreme Court after they cast their votes on Monday: Jonelle Fulmer, Keith Gibson (who forgot his), Jonathan Barnett, Tommy Land, Sharon Wright, and John Nabholz. (AMP photo by Shelby Styron)

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