January 9th, 2009
04:15 PM ET
11 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. ga.


    January 9, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. SDuncan

    This is abosolutely rediculous. First we take prayer out the
    schools and now we can't say "so help me God. What next
    take" In God We Trust "off all money. pleeeeeze

    January 9, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. old hand

    there's no evidence G Washington actually said "so help me god" at his swearing in

    January 9, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. Robert, SC

    To carlo, I agree that there is no hope for them. We can only hope that their children grow up to be smarter.

    January 9, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. Cindy

    Barack Obama is a spiritual man. So what if he wants God's help? If this has been added since George Washington, why not by Barack Obama?

    I am not spiritual, but I see no reason to deny someone who is, his added phrase concerning his faith. My main concern would be if he wasn't spiritual, and he was being pressured to add it in. That day will come... in the future. But not this time.

    January 9, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. GET REAL.

    Howsincere you are in your swearing in is directly tied to your belief systems, so let him say it. I'm an agnostic, and I wouldn't need the phrase to be just as sincere, but if it helps bolster his resolve and the public believes him, go for it.

    I also don't mind him allowing those beliefs to guide him to good choices in office, as long as he stays objective and listens to all sides of an issue. Religion is at its worst when it closes minds. And chances are that a closed mind will also feel the need to shove its religion in other people's faces.

    I'll end off by saying some Christians in America are just as zealous about this sort of thing as the people we're fighting overseas. They just don't think so becuase they don't let it get physical. Same poison, different symptoms.

    Yeah, this'll get posted. CNN allows violent outbursts, but almost never reasoned upset.

    January 9, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. Desmond in Virginia

    To Carlo, did you read the story. It said, "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". People look for a twist/spin in everything. And we say politicians and media do all the spinning...go to foxnews.com. I think the reading is more to your liking there!

    January 9, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. patsy in iowa

    If he isn't a good president, does that mean God decided not to help him? And if he is a good president, does that mean God did it? When did we become a Theocracy?

    January 9, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. BluesBrother

    Another example of the socialist, Muslim, super liberal, policies of the President Elect.

    Give us more Palin stories!

    Palin/Cheney 2012!!!

    January 9, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  10. Arkansas Undertaker

    Every President in history has said "So help me God" ; so why wouldn't Obama say it? He is a Christian.

    January 9, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. Aimee

    Good for him! These Atheists are taking things too far. Give it a rest!

    January 9, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  12. Gene

    It's Obama's inauguration. Why would someone sue over what Obama wants to say? I'm an atheist myself but some of these people pushing for religion or pushing against religion are insane. Can't people just accept that different people have different beliefs, and if it's not hurting anyone, let them be?

    I'll be surprised if I don't see ignorant comments here stating that Obama should be asking to end the inauguration with "So help me Allah" 🙂

    January 9, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Proud American

    Is this news?

    January 9, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. vet

    So let's see the birth certificate then. It's news because people are suprised he's actually going to keep the status quo instead of changing something to keep the spot light on himself.

    January 9, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. Matt

    @ Carlo

    Actually, Muslims use the word "God" to refer to Allah too. Fact is, it's all a non-issue other than for the whiney crybabies who think the mention of God violates the separation of church and state. In reality, this is just tradition and whatever the one taking the oath wants to swear on because they hold it dear and feel it shows the truth of their intent to uphold the oath, I say let 'em say it.

    January 9, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  16. Indy

    It's news because a few Athiests were trying to make it an issue and take it to court. This has nothing to do with Repubs. I like Obama. I believe he is a Christian – though it shouldn't matter anyway. We are not all lemmings so stop trying to make it a partisan play when it someone else making a court case.

    January 9, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Sean

    Washington? Might want to check your facts, CNN. All contemporary sources have no mention of Washington adding "so help me god" to the presidential oath. The earliest reference we have that mentions Washington supposedly saying the phrase comes from Washington Irving *sixty-five years* after George Washington's inauguration.

    January 9, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. Judy

    Current and historical polls have indicated that U.S. citizens consider their country to be a Christian country; the country was founded by Christian people who wanted to preserve the right of it's citizens to have FREEDOM OF RELIGION (as opposed to freedom from religion, as is so frequently mis-stated). It is a horrendous situation that the many are dictated to by the very few and it is wonderful to see our new president show the courage of his beliefs and convications. May God preserve and protect President Obama!

    January 9, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  19. Independent Voter

    Thank you President Obama for not trying to go along just to get along...to God be the Glory, his majesty, dominion and power forever!


    God Bless President Obama, VP Biden and the First Families!

    January 9, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  20. Nick

    No evidence? Is that because there were no tv cameras or audio equipment set up at the time, and all we have to go by is what a bystander wrote down, or a copy of what was supposed to be said?

    January 9, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  21. ran

    It's his party let him say whatever he wants. Religion is one of the biggest evils in this world.

    January 9, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  22. Steve

    I wonder when someone will finally break this tradition. I think it's about time we stop promoting religion and start promoting inquisitive thinking. And maybe we'll end much of the world's violence in the process.

    January 9, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  23. FrancesS.

    THANK GOD!!! It's good to know that some one remembers that we are a country that believes in GOD. Without God, there is no hope.
    Thank you President Obama. May God bless you and God bless America

    January 9, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  24. Mike

    God Bless you Mr. President

    January 9, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  25. Caroline Kennedy for NYS Senate

    If the President wants to say "So help me God." at the end of the oath, he has every prerogative to do so.

    Sometimes there is NO difference between some liberal-minded folks and the far right people they (we?) seem to despise and deride so much.

    I happen to have pretty liberal views. I also happen to be a Christian woman. I have to say, all of the liberal atheists I have come across are most irrationally closed-minded self-righteous to individuals who don't share their [non]-religious views... One person even told me that she disliked Sarah Palin because "she's a nativist".... How was that different from the far right people not voting for Obama because they thought he was muslim? Let's face it. We are bound to come across people who have different views and live differently from us. Deal with it constructively.

    January 9, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
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