|MORE ON TAKING OATHS...TO TELL TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH.......|
Posted by Vishva News Reporter on August 10, 2006
Different ways of swearing oaths in
enlightenment period (last 500 years) in western civilization
(1791: Pen, ink and wash with black chalk, 490 x 600 mm Musée National du
SWEARING CIVIL OATHS
IN WESTERN CHRISTIAN CIVILIZATION
the whole truth,
nothing but the truth
so help me God"
If a person has to
testify in court as above,
what book with "holy scriptures"
must s/he swear on the above ?
PVAF continues to share more knowledge on the
subject matter of the news story which was first published on this
knowledge-sharing PVAF web site for the sole purpose of empowering the
current humanity on this planet earth to co-exist harmoniously with
diversity of cultures and faith systems and proper with knowledge by
alleviating all human poverty - physical, mental, emotional and
As is being discovered through many articles on this PVAF
web site, humanity goes through cycles of growth and decline. But the
sciences of the human creation and life called vED in sNskrut language persists, perseveres
and perpetuates as continuing discoveries and inventions by humanity.
The Truth is....
From world harmonious co-existent to peace,
From poverty to prosperity,
From scientific discovery to comic genius,
All through contentment, spiritual health
and personal achievement,
...we have to choose to be Truthful to receive.
It takes courage to seek out change based on Truth,
But for those Truly courageous souls seeking who
choose to explore Truth, rest assured....
The Truth Is
Today PVAF presents information on the intensifying
argument among humanity in the 21st century, especially in western
civilization, to determine which of the many holy books can be or
should be used for swearing oaths in the judicial systems of various
cultures and civilizations of various nations on the planet earth.
Please click on the next line to learn about
this intensifying argument among humanity the swearing of civil oaths
in western civilizations of today which is transforming into populations of
diverse cultures and belief systems.....also read about the fight by humans
who call themselves atheists in USA about why swearing an oath should be
by any of the holy books and/or by the acknowledge of GOD......
SWEARING CIVIL OATHS
IN WESTERN CHRISTIAN CIVILIZATION
BRF WITNESS: Harold S.
Martin: March/April 1978
An "oath" is a solemn declaration (based on an appeal to
God or to some revered object) that one will speak the truth (or keep a
The Bible speaks about the oath in a number of places.
James 5:12 is a kind of summary statement: "But above all things, my
brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any
other oath; but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, lest ye fall into
Generally we think of two kinds of oaths. There are "common" oaths and there
are "civil" oaths:
Common oaths -- Sometimes a person in private conversation, says, "I'll
swear to it." Children playing at school will say, "Cross my heart and hope
to die, if I'm not telling the truth." These are attempts to guarantee the
truth of what is being said by appealing to some revered object.
The common oath also includes profane swearing and the use of euphemisms.
Swearing is calling upon the name of God to express feelings of anger, and
resentment, and over-emphasis. Euphemisms are mild words substituted for
outright profanity. Both are flippant uses of God's name to guarantee the
strength or truth of one's statements.
Civil oaths -- One called upon as a witness in court, is asked to place his
hand on a Bible, and to solemnly swear to tell the truth. In the courts, it
is a very serious matter to promise (in God's name) to tell the truth, and
then tell a lie. The crime is known as perjury."
One who "swears" before a court of justice implies that he doesn't always
tell the truth, but now that he has placed his hand on the Bible and said "I
do solemnly swear," he is promising to be truthful in what he says. The
Bible, however, says that a Christian is to be clearly identified with truth
telling at all times. His "yes" means "yes." His "no" means "no." He doesn't
need an oath to guarantee that what he says is true. The Christian is to be
so careful with his speech at all times, that it will be said of him as it
was commonly said of the early Brethren - "Their word is their bond" - or,
"Their yes is equal to the world's oath."
The laws of our land recognize the convictions of those who cannot swear an
oath in good conscience, and the law permits us to simply "affirm" instead.
When we "affirm" that what we are about to say is true, we simply state that
we mean to tell the truth as far as we understand it. Our experience has
shown that the judge usually welcomes testimony from those who say they
cannot in good conscience swear over a Bible, but who affirm to tell the
taking oaths upon a Bible,
and use the words
"so help me God."
Separation of Church and State
When Presidents and other federal officials take their
oaths of office, they often place their hand on a Bible and conclude their
oaths with the words "so help me God." Some accommodationists see these
practices as evidence that the founders never intended separation of church
and state. But this conclusion doesn't follow: the Constitution doesn't
require Presidents or other federal officials to place their hand on the
Bible or say the words "so help me God." Quite the contrary, those sections
of the Constitution that deal with oaths of office are completely secular in
content and, as such, constitute evidence that the framers intended
The Presidential oath of office is described in Article II, section 1 of the
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following
Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will
faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to
the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the
Nothing in this section requires that the oath of office be taken on the
Bible. Neither do the words "so help me God" appear in the oath. While
Presidents often include this phrase in their inauguration ceremonies, the
words are customary; they are not required by the Constitution and have no
Additionally, we note that the words required by the Constitution are
described as an "Oath or Affirmation," and that the President is allowed to
simply affirm his faithfulness to the Constitution. The word "affirmation"
was inserted in this section precisely to allow Presidents to avoid swearing
oaths to God as a condition of taking office. This provision seems
particularly intended for Quakers (who had religious objections to taking
oaths), but it is worded broadly enough to encompass any person who objects
to taking an oath, including non-theists.
At the time of the Constitution several states allowed Quakers to escape
taking an oath as a condition of assuming elected office. The 1780
Constitution of the state of Massachusetts, for example, provided that:
when any person shall be of the denomination called Quakers, and shall
decline taking said oath, he shall make his affirmation in the foregoing
form, omitting the words "swear" and inserting, instead thereof, the word
"affirm," and omitting the words "So help me God," and subjoining, instead
thereof, the words, "This I do under the pains and penalties of perjury."
Conversely, the 1776 Delaware and 1777 Vermont constitutions did not
restrict affirmations to Quakers. Like the Federal Constitution, these
states allowed any citizen otherwise qualified for public office to affirm
loyalty to a state, if conscientiously scrupulous of taking an oath. Still,
the federal Constitution went far beyond the practices of even these states
by prohibiting religious tests for public office (see below).
|Finally, we note that even the "oath" form of the words
prescribed by Article II, section 1 is secular in content. Unlike the oaths
required in some states, the federal Constitution does not specify to whom
the President "swears." God is not mentioned; it is almost as if the framers
purposely worded the oath to allow the President decide for himself who, if
anything, is being sworn to.
Oathtaking is not rocket science. If the framers wanted Presidents to invoke
God when taking the oath of office they could have worded the oath to
accomplish that objective. Instead, the constitutional oath of office
contains no reference to God, need not be administered on the Bible, and
need not even be considered an oath. Contrary to the accommodationist
argument, Article II, section 1 is evidence that the framers intended the
federal government to be secular in its operation.
Oaths of office for other federal and state officials are described in
Article VI of the Constitution:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the
several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of
the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or
Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever
be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the
Joseph Story, an early Justice of the Supreme Court and the author of the
first detailed commentary on the United States Constitution, comments on the
oath or affirmation clause of the Constitution as follows:
Oaths have a solemn obligation upon the minds of all
reflecting men, and especially upon those who feel a deep sense of
accountability to a Supreme being. If, in the ordinary administration of
justice in cases of private rights, or personal claims, oaths are required
of those, who try, as well as of those, who give testimony, to guard
against malice, falsehood, and evasion, surely like guards ought to be to
be interposed in the administration of high public trusts, and especially
in such, as may concern the welfare and safety of the whole community. But
there are know denominations of men, who are conscientiously scrupulous of
taking oaths (among which is that pure and distinguished sect of
Christians, commonly called Friends, or Quakers,) and therefore, to
prevent any unjustifiable exclusion from office, the constitution has
permitted a solemn affirmation to be made instead of an oath, and as its
equivalent (Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833, pp.
In other words, the Constitution guarantees all federal
and state officials the right to avoid taking oaths of office. Further, the
Constitution guarantees that there will be no religious tests for federal
office. In the words of Joseph Story, the effect of these provisions is to
"cut off for ever every pretense of any alliance between church and state in
the national government." Additionally, these clauses moved the Constitution
well beyond contemporary state constitutions in terms of their provisions
for religious freedom.
Presidents and other federal officials may swear on the Bible and say the
words "so help me God," but this does not make the Constitution any less
secular. The Constitution requires nothing of federal officers in the way of
religion. The framers saw no need to refer to God in the oath of office, and
explicitly provided an alternative to the oath that guaranteed secularity.
Symbol of the American Atheists
Atheist sues to ban hand on Bible
January 8, 2005: By Jon Ward
The California lawyer who tried to have the phrase "under
God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance now wants to legally prevent
President Bush from placing his hand on a Bible while being sworn in at his
Michael Newdow, an atheist doctor and lawyer from
Sacramento, has filed a complaint and a motion for preliminary injunction in
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking to remove prayer
and all "Christian religious acts" from the Jan. 20 inauguration.
Michael Newdow (AP)
Mr. Newdow, 50, asserts that the presence of Christian ministers who pray
publicly at the inauguration, Christian songs and the swearing of the oath
of office while a president places a hand on the Bible violates the
establishment clause of the First Amendment.
Such practices turn people "into second-class citizens and create division
on the basis of religion," he said yesterday.
"It is an offense of the highest magnitude that the leader of our nation —
while swearing to uphold the Constitution — publicly violates that very
document upon taking his oath of office," Mr. Newdow wrote in his Dec. 17
filing. "The demands of strict scrutiny have not been met, and defendants
must be enjoined from their planned religious activities."
The Constitution does not require the new president to
place his hand on a Bible while repeating the oath. The tradition has been
kept since George Washington — with the exception of Theodore Roosevelt, who
did not use a Bible when he took the oath after President William McKinley's
The Revs. Franklin Graham and Kirbyjon Caldwell delivered
Christian invocations at President Bush's 2001 inauguration. Inaugural
organizers have yet to announce who will pray this year, but they confirmed
there will be an invocation and a benediction by ministers chosen by the
The White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee,
which is one of three inaugural organizational bodies, declined to comment
on Mr. Newdow's actions but a response to his filing was due yesterday.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for Thursday, Mr.
Mr. Newdow's efforts are "part of a march toward removing every vestige of
religion from American public life," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the
American Center for Law and Justice, a D.C.-based public interest law firm.
"There is a progressive move toward secularism that we've got to combat
pretty aggressively," he said.
The center is filing an amicus brief in support of the defendants in this
The legal debate centers on two Supreme Court cases — Marsh v. Chambers in
1983 and Lee v. Weisman in 1992.
The argument in favor of prayer at the inauguration is based on the
establishment of chaplains in Congress at its inception, before the Bill of
Rights was passed prohibiting any "law respecting an establishment of
When the presence of chaplains in the Nebraska state legislature was legally
challenged in 1983 by Ernest Chambers, a Nebraska lawmaker, the Supreme
Court ruled against him, saying the practice had a "special nook" because it
was a long-standing practice to have government-paid chaplains.
"The Supreme Court has given its constitutional blessing, so to speak," said
Mr. Sekulow. "We should not lose our history and the religious underpinnings
it is founded on."
However, Mr. Newdow makes a distinction between prayer in government
chambers and prayer at a presidential inauguration.
"This is the most important public ceremony we have in our public existence,
the inauguration," he said. "This is public, not just for" lawmakers.
The presence of Christian influence and prayer, Mr. Newdow said, have forced
him to contemplate not using his ticket to the inauguration because he does
not want to feel like "an outsider."
Mr. Newdow filed a similar suit in the San-Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals last year. The court threw out the suit, calling it
"futile" and said that Mr. Newdow had not suffered "a sufficiently concrete
and specific injury," the Associated Press reported.
Mr. Newdow first became a national figure when he argued before the Supreme
Court last March to remove the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of
Allegiance. The court dismissed his case on the grounds that he could not
represent his 10-year-old daughter, who is in the custody of his ex-wife and
believes in God.
In addition to his quest to remove Christian activities from the
inauguration, Mr. Newdow has renewed his quest to remove "under God" from
the pledge by filing a new suit in California federal court on behalf of
eight other parents.
Mr. Newdow is a licensed minister of atheism, though he says he and members
of his Internet church worship nobody. He says church members instead
encourage a way of thinking.
"Question everything," said Mr. Newdow, summing up his worldview. "Be
honest. Do what's right. Stand up for principle."
When asked how to determine what is right, Mr. Newdow said, "I use my
Mr. Newdow states in his complaint that he "sincerely believes that there is
no such thing as god, or God, or any supernatural force." On the contrary,
he believes "supernatural" is an oxymoron. "Thus, plaintiff denies the
existence of God."
The Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition,
said Mr. Newdow's filing marks "the day we have been warning America would
"Mr. Newdow should be ashamed for seeking this injunction against his fellow
citizens," he said. "We, as Americans, need to awaken and deal with these
threats to religious liberty, cynically disguised as 'civil liberties'
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