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. Claire

    When I was sworn in as a civil servant of a federal agency, using the same oath President Obama will swear to, I was given the choice to say "so help me god" or to use secular language. I believe all civil servants are given the same choice and it's nothing new.

    January 9, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. legal in nc

    Finally something I can agree with the PE on!

    May God Bless you Mr Obama!

    January 9, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  3. get over it

    all that negative around, no one is better than the next, non of us could not run this country if we wanted to. It is a very BIG step for all the past, present, & future pesidents. That is why all of us need to be a helper instead of downing our leaders that represent us, no matter who is the pesident we still need to do our job as a country to make it better for all man kind. Other countries is looking at us & saying how stupid we are. instead of working together as a UNITED country we still have hatred among us as people. If we agree or disagree we still need to be UNITED & support who in office or NOT at the end of it ALL we are still The People Of The United States Of America.

    January 9, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  4. President Obama

    The reason the US is falling like a brick is because its people refuse to continue honoring the God that made this country the superpower it USED to be.

    January 9, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |

    All of you ppl tht are so afraid of what this man may do......where has your concern been these last 8 yrs?....This Ctry is more messed up then it was 8 yrs ago.....So, my question to all of you with reservations......Really, what is the true reason your so "AFRAID" of this man....?

    Cut him he bleeds red, just like you and I, so again.......what is it that you are really afraid of? the fact that we have never had a Barack Hussien Obama as President?

    In 2012 when he is up for re-election will you still have those same fears? if not, why not?......HMMMMMMMMM???


    January 9, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  6. David

    I'm with Kruz.

    As a fellow atheist, this doesn't bother me in the slightest.

    January 9, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  7. joke

    Who cares, GOD or not!!! This is not news.

    January 9, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  8. Max

    Obambi – in a phrase that the red sheep repugs started oh so many years ago ... Love it or leave it ... if you don't like Obama, please leave, our country needs people here that can work together, unlike the republicant's ... just get out so we can rebuild the country together

    January 9, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  9. Stacey, Connecticut

    @ram – You never supported Obama in the first place.

    January 9, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  10. Cynthia - Arkansas

    I think he is a good Christian man, who wants to honor God with an oath. I don't know how they can continue to tell the lie that he is a Muslim.

    Some people won't be happy no matter what he does. I just thank God that we finally have a decent, honorable man to lead this country! I can't imagine anyone wanting to try and fix this mess left by Bush and buddies.

    God Speed Barack! Bless you and your beautiful family.

    January 9, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  11. Erika, KS

    Can we please have separation of church of state? He can say it to himself. It doesn't have to be verbalized. People can pray to God all day long in their head if they want to. No one is stopping them. God should stay out of politics.

    January 9, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  12. Emmanuel

    He must definately say it cos, the strength to rule does not come from the North, South , East or WEST but From God. He can only rule with wisdom through God who strengthens him...(phil 3.14)

    January 9, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  13. Franky

    "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."

    You tell those Atheists that if the Dark Ages didn't get rid of them, then I'll make sure as HELL this term does! LOL!!

    January 9, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. bluehawaii

    Hey "Don": The constant need to invoke the separation of church and state results when religious zealots insist on forcing their "beliefs" on others; it sure isn't, as you suggest, the other way around.

    January 9, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  15. Ted

    Yes, I believe that you supported the man you now call "Osama". I also believe this is why. Everything you said made logical sense and was not at all transparent. You'd get along well with my pet unicorn.

    January 9, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  16. Texas Teacher

    God is NOT imperfect only the human beings who believe they understand that Him/Her/It! Doesn't matter the name you choose to use... only one God.. with many names....

    I think it is entirely up to Obama to use those words. He is a Christian, so that is the name he would use. And that is just fine with me, though I am not a Christian. I would say Creator! so what!
    The same Creator no matter the name!

    January 9, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |


    I AM SO GLAD, THAT "SO HELP GOD" will be added at the END

    January 9, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  18. Charlie

    Firstly, it is a tradition for "so help me god" to be included in the presidential oath. Secondly, there is a huge difference between honouring a tradition inherent in our government and having a firm belief in an additional unnecessary phrase. I've never heard any fuss directed toward a president for honouring the tradition of having a dog in the White House, one tradition also dating back to our first president. Are there not people who dislike dogs in a similar way an atheist would dislike a mentioning of God?

    Additionally, the First Amendment states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". The fact that he wishes to say "so help me God" and there are people arguing that he should not say it is direct violation of his own First Amendment right to be able to say it. Therefore, no matter how angry athiests, agnostics, or non Judeo-Christian-Muslim worshipers are at the statement, it would be worse for him to give up his Constitutional right to say the phrase because it goes against that which we all hold so dear. Thus, the old adage "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it".

    Perhaps, we should all think about how important this issue is in the scheme of life.

    January 9, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |


    I AM SO GLAD, THAT "SO HELP GOD" will be added at the END



    January 9, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  20. Joann

    I did not support Obama, but I do believe he has a right to say "so help me God" if he wants and I do hope and pray he is a good president. We have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion in this country and if an atheist ever gets elected, he can choose not to say it if he wants. People need to stop forcing their beliefs on others. We need to learn to agree to disagree and live in peace.

    January 9, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  21. SMR

    This story takes the cake. If those traditional words affend them,TOO BAD.Don't watch or miss out on history. I hope these people of this group live a long life: but in the end may they GO TOO HELL!!!

    January 9, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  22. Linda from Minnesota

    No matter what he says, someone will criticize him. People, if what he says bothers you, you need a life or a hobby or something. Geez, focus on stuff thats important and quit quibbling over non-issues. He's a Christian, let him say it and IF he were a Muslim, let him say something about Allah. I thought we were a country of free speech.

    January 9, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  23. Moving on

    How is this an issue given the state of the country? Obama is being sworn in not you, myself, or anyone else for that matter. It is kind of his day too, so if he wants to use that phrase let him!

    January 9, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  24. Linda K.

    To Lori,

    Obama is not a Muslim. But Muslims believe in God, too.

    January 9, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |

    If we ever needed God's help, it would be now to get us out of this deep ditch the country is currently in.

    January 9, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
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