January 9th, 2009
04:15 PM ET
10 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. Ayse-London

    I doubt that this was the topic of conversation during the Presidential lunch a few days ago, so why does CNN feel the need to give this nonsense publicity? If you wanted to waste some space on here, why not put up a word search.

    January 9, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  2. Elijah Davis

    He going to need god to help him for these four years. Atheist needs to go and sit down. They always want to take God out of something. If you do not believe in God that is you preference. Nobody needs to fix the world just to satify them. If you have problem woth God being in something you need to leave the country, because our constitution of the United States was based off the prinicples of the bible if the Atheist people sit down and read the United States Constitution sometimes.

    January 9, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  3. Teddy, winnipeg, Canada

    Muslims also believe in God, "Allah'. God is for all humankind believers except the Atheists; we all believe in one God, creator . well done Barack..You have a great hope for the better future of USA as well as the World .Yes you can accomplish all things with the help of God.
    "Go Obama No Drama."

    January 9, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  4. Jordan

    Jacob-Kevin, since when did being Godless mean anything negative?

    As for his whole incorporation of Washington's famous lines, bonkers. I expected better from him. John Quincy Adams is the only president to ever swear in the correct way, on a Book of Law.

    January 9, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  5. Jason

    I rather hoped Obama's exposure to multiple belief systems (including atheism) would give him a proper respect for this country's secular foundation, but more and more he makes me wonder if he's just another bible-thumper. To nip future comments in the bud – not all Christians are "bible-thumpers"; it's a slur against unthinking folks who refer to the bible over reason and good sense.

    January 9, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  6. No Incumbents 2010

    I have to say I like this decision.

    January 9, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  7. Davwud

    Okay first of all. Who cares if what religion he is?? If he's even religious at all. I can't see how it would help or hinder him in doing his apointed duties.

    Secondly, he's Christian and it's his oath to take. He can say it. If an Athiest gets in, they don't have to say it.

    ram, he's a politician.

    Avon Lady, that's the correct attitude to have.


    January 9, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  8. chris@stl

    I would suggest him to also include "..... so help me people help you". There are a lot of idiots out there with their preconceived hatred toward the PE ....

    January 9, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  9. Pat Lugo

    Yes....I agree.....he will need it....every little bit will help.....God help us all........

    January 9, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  10. macbeth

    Although the United States should, as John Holdt said, move away from old, senseless traditions and religions, I believe that Obama should have the right to say what he wants to say.

    January 9, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  11. Lori

    Maybe this will shut up the illiterate Republicans who still believe that Obama is a Muslim (which shouldn't even matter, by the way).

    Judging by the way the Republicans left this country, President Obama will need God.

    January 9, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  12. IndyVoter

    His choice. Period. Next...

    January 9, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  13. Horace

    Hey, if its been a tradition may he sould leave it out so he can offically start his term by not being the same old, same old.

    If he does want a line I think Please, please God help me might be more appropriate for the moment....

    I do think church stae should be seperated but that doesn't mean if someone has faith they can;t express it; they just can't promote it!

    January 9, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  14. raul

    @ John Holdt

    So according to you , all our early ancestors were micro-organisms and we just evolved....now that's funny

    January 9, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  15. Obambi

    I'll be saying, "So help us God," when Obama takes the oath. We'll need all the divine help we can get when this lightweight is President.

    January 9, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  16. Don

    The U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from establishing an official state religion, as was the case in Europe when America became independent. Actually, this was revolutionary and profound for its time, and humanity has the United States to thank for establishing this precedent.

    Our Constitution also prohibits the government from prohibiting the free practice of religion. In other words, nobody can tell you when you can or cannot pray or make reference to God. All Americans have total freedom in this regard.

    Nowhere is the term 'separation of church and state' ever used.

    You also have the right not to believe. It seems a small minority just aren't satisfied with having the right to be antheists. They insist that everyone around them refrain from any reference to God or religion. It is not like they are trying to stop repression of their beliefs. Actually, the inverse is true, they are trying to repress the free expression of beliefs and free pratices of the vast majority. It is like saying, you can't tell me what to believe, but, being more enlightened, I definitely get to tell you what you can say and do.

    Public officials cannot establish an official state church. However, like the rest of us, they are free to make reference to religion as much as they want. That is their constitutional right. If President-Elect Obama is told that he can't use the term 'so help me God', than his right to freely exercise his faith would have been prohibited, which is a violation of our Constitution.

    January 9, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  17. Ernie in LA

    To John Holdt, One day you won't feel that way, I can guarantee you.

    January 9, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  18. boered1

    No Hillary = No Obama January 9th, 2009 5:46 pm ET

    Obama does not ring true for me and everything he says impresses as either: 1. ingratiating or 2. self-aggrandizing

    but you believe in and trust the liar hillary?



    January 9, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  19. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    For those who wish to destroy us for whatever reason, with the help and blessings from God we will prevail.

    January 9, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  20. pt

    John Holdt – that is an extremely ignorant position you take. America achieved it's status as the most advanced nation in world history with religious principles guiding the majority of its citizens. Do you forget the abolitionists driven by faith in God? What was Dr. King's occupation? If you hate people of faith, just think of the moral positions advocated by atheist groups.

    January 9, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  21. JMarie

    Amen, Pres-Elect Obama. Thank you for being a man of faith, honesty and strength.

    January 9, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  22. smk Housotn

    Well.... It is something new to say " so help me God..... Without God
    he can't lead this country. Our founders acknowledged God. That is the only reason this country is standing firm. "So help me God"... is not a CHOICE rather it is a MUST..................

    January 9, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  23. sm

    United States was founded on biblical principles and without him is how the United States got into this great mess that is in today because people have kicked GOD out of schools, out of government and pretty much out of church, shame on the people of the United States.

    January 9, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  24. Ben p

    John Holdt – moving past medieval teachings ? to what ? i dont get it ? How blessed are you to live in this world when millions dont even get a chance to be born. Be careful in denying the creator of this universe.

    January 9, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  25. carment

    @ No Hillary = No Obama January 9th, 2009 5:46 pm ET

    Obama does not ring true for me and everything he says impresses as either: 1. ingratiating or 2. self-aggrandizing


    What makes you think we aren't all well aware of that after these many months of your singing the same tune? LOL

    January 9, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
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