January 9th, 2009
04:15 PM ET
7 years ago

Obama has asked to say 'so help me God' at swearing-in

(CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama has requested that the words “so help me God” be added to the end of the oath of office to be administered by Chief Justice John Roberts on Inauguration Day.

That confirmation came in an affidavit filed today by Roberts' court counselor in a pending lawsuit by an atheist opposed to any mention of God in the inaugural ceremonies. Roberts said he would abide by Obama’s wishes.

The Constitution has specific language on what has to be said when swearing in the president, but the “so help me God” phrase has traditionally been added at the end of the required oath, starting with George Washington in 1789.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (206 Responses)
  1. Jim

    In a country where free speach is a right, why is this an issue?

    January 9, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  2. Brad

    Talk about smarter? This is not the repubs, its Atheists and other groups who don't believe in God that brought the Law Suit. I did not vote for him but He got this one right. Get the facts before you blame the wrong people.

    January 9, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  3. Marshall

    If they atheists do like "So help me God", then they don't have to say it when they are elected President.

    January 9, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  4. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

    WHICH GOD IS HE TALKING ABOUT???????????

    January 9, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Isn't it ironic, don't you think....when the entire country is saying..."so help me Obama".

    January 9, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. Carlo, Raleigh NC

    Seriously, I wish athiests would just back off and accept that not all of us beleive there is no god... Why don't they just take comfort from the fact that a religious politition, like obama, would swear his oath on a bible and ask gods help in fulfilling the oath... Seriously, it would consern me if a politition claiming to be a religious man optend not to swear on the bible (or appropirate religious text) and not ask gods help faithfully executing the oath of their office. It would demonstrait that the individual has a rather disingeneous character.

    More over, I wish that athiests would remember that the seperation of church and state wasn't put into the bill of rights to promot athiesm. That would actually be a violation of the spirit of the bill, rather it was put in place to protect individuals rights to worship (or not) as they see fit. So, it is actually there, for instance, to protect Obama's right to swear in on a bible and use the phrase "so help me god".

    January 9, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  7. Troy Kendal

    Isn't it ironic, don't you think.....when the entire country is saying "so help me Obama".

    January 9, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. dionne

    The true purpose and meaning of this phrase has been lost - appropriated often even in a vengeful manner. Originally it was meant to invoke guidance and suppport, as in, "I'm going to do my best, so [please] help me, God." The comma, the pause and the humble request for God's help make a difference ... and we certainly need that at this time.

    January 9, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. Saundra

    Obama should ask for God's help. He will need it.

    January 9, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. Connie

    Atta boy, Barack!

    January 9, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  11. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    @Carlo

    WELL SAID!

    January 9, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  12. David, NY

    I guess we should all be relieved that god will take matters into his own hands if Obama doesn't abide by his oath. Unlike our current President, I really hope he isn't leaving it all up to god's will.

    January 9, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. Lori

    Presidents-elect may choose to include or eliminate "God" in their swearing in. Obama is a practicing Christian - contrary to the GOP lies and smears - and he chooses to include God. So be it.

    I would do the same, but I would respect anyone who chose not to include the God reference. To each his own.

    January 9, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  14. kelly

    To Old hand. Even if Washington didn't say it, most presidents have. And if Obama wants to say that phrase, shouldn't he have the same freedom of speech to do so. I think its sad there was even a lawsuit. It isn't going to kill the atheists for the words "so help me God" or a prayer to be uttered.

    January 9, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  15. Amber

    Robert, SC and carlo:

    Fat chance, unless we finally get solid funding of education. Because Lord knows they aren't getting their stellar comprehension abilities from their elders.

    This country is amazing. We underfund education starting in the early 80's and wonder why everyone in this country is so #@$%&! stupid.

    January 9, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. forAMERICA

    I REALLY ACCEPT WITH obama BECAUSE THE BIBLE SAYS WITHOUT GOD WE CAN'T DO NOTHING ONLY HOPE I WOULD HAVE IN OBAMA GOVERNANCE IS IF IS GOVERN UNDER THE HAND OF GOD BECAUSE THE TIME WE LIVING NOW IS A PROFECY TIME'S WITHOUT GIVING TOO MUCH DETAILS ON THAT THINGS NOT GOING TO BE EASY FOR EASY AHEAD. PLEASE MR OBAMA LET'S GET BE FIRST AND YOU WILL BE A GREAT PRESIDENT IN HISTORY OF AMERICA, AND DON'T FORGET GOD IS THE ONE WHO YOU CAN LAID ON I WILL CONTINUE TO PRAY GOD FOR YOU AND AMERICA AND YOUR FAMILY,

    January 9, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. CAMI

    To Carlo and Robert, SC: I agree with both of you about there being no hope for those who still think that PEBO is a Muslim. I just wonder how many posts there will be from them, wondering which "God" he'll be referring to during the swearing in. (If I could I'd insert some rolling eyes here.) LOL

    January 9, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. Parsipany

    All monotheistic religions would add" so help me god." What does this have to do with Islam vs. Christianity?

    I do wish, however, that Barack would have left it out. The separation of Church and State should be the first step in repairing Bush's damage.. As Sir Tijn Po's says in COMING SOON, "until people give up the old prophecies there is no chance for peace!"

    January 9, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  19. FAYE, NV

    "So help all of us God", for those who don't want Obama as our President and continuing to false accuse him.

    January 9, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  20. Mike

    ALL these that Question GOD at the end of their lives where do you think you are going to an all night Party?????

    January 9, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  21. zt

    The country is going into the tank and we quibble about invoking the Lord's name? Jesus!

    January 9, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  22. Lisa, MD

    He wants to say it, there's nothing wrong with that. He wants to say. The oath is for Barack to acknowledge in front of the American people and he wants to say it. He wants God's help. End of story, move on.

    January 9, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  23. Georgia Peach

    Carlo I agree I agree with you. Those neocons will never get off the Muslim garbage they spewed. I pray "so help him God "to protect him from the spewings of Gov. Palin and Rush alike beings who have forgotten their first love of the Jesus Christ they say they serve and never knew ,for they would not do the things they do.May God be with us all in the next years to come........for it will not be an easy time for most of us especially Pres. Obama when the GOP already has decided to put nothing but stumbling blocks up, no matter who it will hurt in our nation......as long as they can be the catalyst of defeat of others trying to make a honest living....they rally don't care.

    January 9, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. Jared

    Thanks, Carlo. I feel that the same non-news was reported when we learned that Obama would be sworn in as Barack Hussein Obama, not some kind of embrace of Islamic extremism (as some persist to allege), but rather the tradition.

    January 9, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  25. Lisa

    He wants to say it, there's nothing wrong with that. He wants to say "so help me God". The oath is for Barack to acknowledge in front of the American people and he wants to say it. He wants God's help. End of story, move on.

    January 9, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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