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Secular Alternative To The Oath Of Office

Thu Jan 20, 2005 5:59 pm

I have decided not to comment in the debate about George Bush taking his oath on the Bible. Instead, however, I'd like to ask a concrete question. In order for his inauguration to be valid, does he have to "swear" and end with "so help me God", or could he instead chose to repeat a non-religious version (I.E. "I, George Walker Bush, do SOLEMNLY AFFIRM...")?

In Canada, I think public officials have the choice of either swearing (a religious act) or solemnly affirming (a secular act) the promise. In the Czech Republic, the President must make a PROMISE in order to be validly president, but it's by constitutional definition a promise, not a religious oath.

As an aside question, I know that in the American military, you can either "swear" or "solemnly affirm" your promise. But are those who "solemnly affirm" exempted from saying "so help me God" at the end (In Canada they are)?
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RE: Secular Alternative To The Oath Of Office

Thu Jan 20, 2005 6:20 pm

The constitution allows an affirmation as an alternative to any oath.
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RE: Secular Alternative To The Oath Of Office

Fri Jan 21, 2005 5:34 am

SLC is right -- anyone can "solemnly affirm" instead of swearing.

The U.S. Constitution does not specify the words "so help me God" in the Presidential oath of office. Those words have been spoken by tradition alone, starting with the first sworn President of the United States, George Washington. Any president-elect can choose not to say those words. The fact of the matter is, most Presidents have been men of faith and had no reason *not* to say them.


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