Oregon Set to Pass Law Making Saying “So Help Me God” Optional for Witnesses at Committee Hearings

In Oregon, one of the few states where Democrats control the legislature and governorship, there’s an odd situation where committee hearings at the Capitol require those testifying to swear an oath that includes the phrase “So help me God.”

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That’s obviously a problem for atheists. It’s also a problem for religious people whose faith prevents them from taking oaths mentioning God.

Senate Bill 1595 is a way to fix that. It puts forth a very simple change, really just adding two words to existing law:

The President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the chairperson or vice chairperson of any statutory, standing, special or interim committee of either house of the Legislative Assembly, or the chairperson or vice chairperson of a statutory, standing, special or interim joint committee of the two houses, may administer oaths or affirmations to witnesses in any proceedings under their examination.

That’s it. In a nutshell, it means witnesses testifying before a House or Senate committee in Oregon no longer have to say “So help me God” if they don’t want to.

The legislation was introduced in early February. It passed in the Senate 28-0 (with 2 abstentions). It passed in the House 52-3 (with 5 abstentions). And it’s now just one Democratic Governor’s signature away from becoming a law.

Like I said, it’s incredible this wasn’t already in place, and that there are so many hoops to jump through to make the change, but it looks like it’s finally going to happen. It’s about time.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Dustin for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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