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Tucson Atheists Message Board › A question on oaths

A question on oaths

John T.
user 5081321
Tucson, AZ
Post #: 26
Perhaps this has been discussed before, and at length, and I am just too lazy to search the whole message board but what is our legal obligation in Arizona and the US in general with respect to legal oaths that include the phrase " so help me God?"

As the Reverend Sam mentions on another thread, one option is to just keep quiet in a group oath and not say "yes" or "I do." And if you are the only person being asked you could say "I promise to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, period" and then get into the whole issue of argument with the judge over "just answer the question."

Just for purposes of future planning, what lies down the road when you simply refuse to respond to this "rhetorical" form of question?

I suspect it will have an important impact of being selected for a jury!
A former member
Post #: 161
I have encountered this in the past. As far as I can remember, the judges and legal professionals can't tell you on the spot, because it is so rare that anyone would bring up the issue. So don't rely on them to help you do it right when the time comes. If my memory serves me correctly, (I couldn't get an answer with google), you can omit the whole "so help me god" business by replacing it with, I "solemnly affirm" xyz.


http://atheism.about.com/od/ideasforatheistactivism/a/AffirmSwear.htm­

I didn't have a chance to read the article, but it appears to give the info.
A former member
Post #: 577
My guess (and guess is all it is) is that the "oath" is just a legal formality with little or no actual weight. That is, once they call you to a witness stand, you are "under oath" whether you like it or not. When they say "Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you Dog?", you could reply by reciting poetry from Ogden Nash and you would still be under oath...although if you recited poetry you might piss off the judge and get cited for contempt of court.

My suggestion would be to answer: By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan, I shall speak the truth!


John T.
user 5081321
Tucson, AZ
Post #: 27
I thought it was "you will be avenged."

Anyway, thanks for the link and opinions. In the end it depends on what you want to accomplish. Wow, situational ethics?

A former member
Post #: 579
I thought it was "you will be avenged."

It was...but that doesn't fit very well for a swearing in in a courtroom.

A former member
Post #: 2
I am a high school teacher and I have to lead the pledge everyday but I never say the " under god" part.
I haven't said it for 14 years and no student has ever asked me why.
I guess they're are still too half asleep during first period.
A former member
Post #: 60
Why are the students required to even say the pledge? Depending on the grade, those are just words to them with no real meaning. For the higher grades, are they being coned into saying something that they do not want?
A former member
Post #: 110
From what I understand, the law is based upon one's intent. I have always intended to "to do the right thing" and so for group oaths, when the issue of God came up, I just did not provide those words in my recitation but did absolutely have an earnest belief in the oath itself. That being said, based upon what Andrew suggested, does the world "solemnly" have a legal meaning? For a period of years in my life I wrote construction specifications and most people, for example, don't know that the words "will" and "shall" which are commonly used in the vernacular have a specific legal meaning when writing documents that have legal authorization. Therefore, I was wondering if solemnly also does. If not, I would prefer the word "ernestly".
A former member
Post #: 552
Article VI, third paragraph, of the US Constitution provides that one may make either an oath or an affirmation.

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 United States.

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html­

Unless I'm mistaken, it has been interpreted generally in legal cases to mean that one can make an affirmation, with the omission of any reference to the supposed supernatural, and that such an affirmation is equally binding as an oath. Often the affirmation has the same body text, but where in the oath there is "so help me god", and the like, it is replaced with "I do affirm" and similar secular phrases. In these situations usually the person would also not be required to place a hand on any religious text.

Personal note;
A few years ago I was a witness in a case here in Scottsdale. When I was called to testify at the witness booth, I never said anything to anyone about my atheism. But the bailiff administered the affirmation without asking my preference, he said "do you affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth pursuant to Arizona law?" Or something to that effect.
A former member
Post #: 162


http://www.youtube.com/user/richarddawkinsdotnet?blend=1&ob=4#p/a/f/1/FefynZwWM0I­

Rachel Maddow talks about

Solemn Affirmation

She also talks about states that mandate political leaders must believe in God to be fit to hold public office.

Must see.
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