William Federer, a low-rent David Barton without the erudition, has a Worldnetdaily column entitled “Why Belief in God is Necessary for Taking Oaths.” His answer is quite predictable — because belief in God (allegedly) makes you more likely to follow the oath. But there’s some obvious misinformation along the way:
Notice the wording of that last item: Lincoln proposed an oath that ended with “So help me God.” Why did he have to propose such a thing? Because it isn’t the part of any oaths that are required. The president’s oath does not end that way, nor does it even require swearing an oath at all. You’d think someone who claims to revere the Constitution as much as Federer would have read Article 2, Section 1:
“So help me God.” Why has the tradition in America been for oaths to end with “So help me God”?
- The military’s oath of enlistment ended with “So help me God.”
- The commissioned officers’ oath ended with “So help me God.”
- President’s oath of office ended with “So help me God.”
- Congressmen and Senators’ oath ended with “So help me God.”
- Witnesses in court swore to tell the truth, “So help me God.”
- Even Lincoln proposed an oath to be a United States citizen which ended with “So help me God.”
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 United States.”
You don’t need to swear an oath, you can also simply affirm that you will do those things. And “so help me God” appears nowhere in it. Nor do court witnesses have to say it, or military officers, or any other elected officials besides the president. And lots of people don’t. Is there any evidence whatsoever that those who affirm rather than swear an oath, or who do not say “so help me God” are any less likely to perform their duties honorably? Of course not. Which means this whole thing is a big ol’ pile of BS.