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Rafiq M.
Bogor, ID
Post #: 563
I have never quite got the hang of the mailing list system so forgive me if I reply to an issue which cropped up there.

Somebody wrote that he was worried about whether to take a religious oath or to affirm and the effect his choice might have on the value that the jury gave his evidence.

This is simply astonishing. I thought it would make no difference whatsoever and it is very shocking to think that it might do so in the United States. I used to give evidence regularly as an expert witness. I was then a Muslim and sometimes used to donate a Quran to the court, but often would affirm if they didn't have one. I was a little worried about the whole oath business anyway because I thought that it was necessary to tell the truth whatever the situation and to put one's hand on a book wouldn't be any more guarantee than if you didn't. The courts in the UK really didn't care at all and I'm sure that where there were juries they didn't care either. I also used to have to get my affidavits sworn before a lawyer and it didn't matter a jot whether I swore or affirmed.

Of course now I would never take an oath.

I have also been to two British Citizenship ceremonies as a guest. They did the ceremony twice over (when required) for those who wanted to affirm and for those who wanted to take the oath. On one occasion everyone affirmed and on the other only one family wanted to take the oath. There were, I think about thirty or forty people each time. Nobody had to sing (or even hear) the words "God save the Queen" because only the music was played. As a staunch republican (as against monarchist, not as against democrat) I remained seated during the British national anthem as I always do. No body took a blind bit of notice. (Even if I'm standing I usually try to find somewhere to sit.) Thank goodness there is none of that hand on heart business you have in the States.*

It seems that there is a lot of difference between the culture of Britain which is a monarchy with an established church and the United States which is a republic with a constitutional separation of church and state. It is always a shock to realise how more secular the former is in practice compared with the latter. I was flabbergasted, for example, that someone like Marcus Brigstocke could not appear even on NPR in the US.

*I once had to attend a flag hoisting ceremony in the first school I was employed at in Indonesia. It had me in fits of giggling and laughter. To save my employer embarrassment I had it written in to my contract afterwards that I would never be required to attend a nationalist or religious ceremony. They are equally as ridiculous.
Suzy W.
Rocky River, OH
Post #: 111
When I went to Jury Duty a couple years ago, and they had all of us potential jurors in court, they asked us all to say "I do swear or I do affirm" to tell the truth. All I remember is that we all had to stand at the same time and they read something, and then we had to say "I swear" or I affirm" afterwords. We said it all together. I was not picked as a juror, so I do not know if this process changed once one was a juror.
Willard B.
Cleveland, OH
Post #: 1
I was the one who brought this subject up and the more I think about it the more irritated I get. In the 21st century, in a country in which church and state are supposedly kept separate, why does the oath even exist? I'm a notary public and in the state of Ohio this is the format for an affirmation: "Do you solemnly affirm that the statements in the affidavit are true, under penalty of the law of perjury?" Why isn't this sufficient? (For an oath, substitute "swear" for "affirm" and "so help you, God" for "under penalty of the law of perjury."
Suzy W.
Rocky River, OH
Post #: 114
Has anyone else had experience where they were asked to "swear" or affirm?
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