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. D'Anne Hancock

    I do not intend this to be a flippant comment but is Blago mentally ill?? Does anyone know?

    January 9, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  2. virginia for obama

    Good for you Obama!!!! Because you will need HIS HELP for the things you can not control.

    I know that there are some who thinks believing in God is nonsense and thats okay, you have that right of your opinion, but for ME, having HIM in my life, my mind and life is no longer tormented or emotionallly out of control. I truly HOPE that some of you will find some happiness in your life, whatever it maybe.


    January 9, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  3. Meh

    Raul> Yes, that's exactly it. And?

    olusola> The Founding Fathers were Deists, so yes, they did recognize that there was a god...however, they (i.e. – Jefferson) thought it best that religion and government be kept separate. And I agree w. them.

    That being said, if Obama's a Christian, he has every right to use the oath. Why not? I'm Agnostic, but I'm not going to freak out if someone else chooses to exercise their freedom of religion in front of me.

    January 9, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  4. Sally

    I'm still trying why people say seperation of church and state when US Currency says "In God we Trust" printed on it which of course if backed by the US Governmant.

    So, why shouldn't Obama say the word "God" if that's what he believes in?

    January 9, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  5. peter

    this is soo stupid and makes me feel so caustic! we should not take that out because of some stupid athiest! if you do not beleive, just dont watch! Obama is a christian, so it should be up to him to use that phrase or not. im an Obama supporter and also a christian, however, i could careless if he uses the phrase or not. the choice should be Obama's and NO ONE else. us americans are such WHINERS!! whine about stupid stuff all the time....

    January 9, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  6. SM

    ram "Obama just lost my support." Aw gosh. If the fact that he is a Christian bothers you, then I doubt he ever HAD your support. I admire him for trying to make the ceremony personal for himself...whatever he decided would upset somebody.
    This whole "separation" stuff is garbage anyway. If we elect a Christian, he should be driven by the teachings of his faith (not sure what George W learned in his churches over the years, but I doubt torture and war were endorsed highly.) I respected Jimmy Carter for always living his beliefs while he was President. I know some people think he was terrible, but he's the last true man of faith we elected. Peace is not some code word for "strike first, peace later." The last 8 years have proven that a Godless man is even worse for the country, hasn't it? Think of all the Americans killed on his watch...and tortured, and spied upon. Those are not acts of Christian faith, nor any other.

    January 9, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  7. Gail Los Angeles

    Thank you God that President Elect Obama is both a Democrat and a Christian. The public hasn't heard from the Christian Democrats since Jimmy Carter. Check out what the Carter Center has done if you want to know what Christians believe in doing. Christian are called to help the poor and promote social justice. They are to love their neighbors as themselves and promote peace with Everyone.

    People all across America are praying they can pay their bills. Obama will need all our prayers to succeed.

    January 9, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  8. Connie from Indiana

    Obama has a right to choose what is said. To all of you who believe in the separation of church and state when you become prez you can choose also.For myself when I am in need I go to GOD, not the state. I still believe in miracles.

    January 9, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  9. paul (staunch Moderate)

    Oh, fer cryin out loud! There is nothing more elementary-school than this argument. Separation of church and state has nothing to do with inauguration oaths, or words printed on money, or commandments displayed in courthouses, or words within the Pledge of Allegiance. It has to do with enacting and enforcing laws based upon ones religious beliefs. When will these bufoons stop this insanity?

    January 9, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  10. BigSalad

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

    Maybe it will help illiterate Democrats find out that Christianity and Islam have the same God.

    January 9, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  11. AB

    gimmee a break with the God stuff. Obviously it's a fantasy otherwise things would be just peachey and they sure ain't.

    January 9, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  12. Josh

    As long as Obama does not say "So help me God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen" I don't see what the big deal is. I'm an agnostic, like many of the Founding Fathers, and much like the references to "God" in the Declaration and other early works, I don't see the use of the word "God" as in any way offensive. He is not directly referencing any faith, and in fact, it can easily be taken that he is invoking the "God of Nature" whom the Founders – Jefferson, Franklin, etc – revered, not the strictly Christian God.

    I think that those of us who are NOT Christian need to take a step back and look at ourselves long and hard, because many of us are beginning to sound a LOT like the same people we vilify in our dogmatic approach to faith.

    If we don't believe in God – from a Christian or other perspective – that is our right, no matter how much the Religious Zealots of the American Taliban might try to change things. However, we must also accept that belief in a God is also a right protected by the Constitution, no matter how much the Athiest Zealots wish it were otherwise.

    January 9, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  13. Joshkin

    The united states needs to join the rest of the world in secularism, and stop involving god in the state. I mean come on we call ourselves a secular nation, and yet we've forced the Native American's off their land for White Christiane Settlers, and forcefully converted them to Christianity. We have the word god on all our coins. The word god appears in almost every Federal building, yet we call ourselves a secular and tolerant nation. Freedom of religion is completely false, I mean look at how we've treated non Christan's. Killing them, taking their children and converting them. But only some Christan's are good, because if your Catholic your going to hell, if your Mormon your going to hell, if your Orthodox your going to hell. It's completely mental!

    January 9, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  14. kayla


    January 9, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  15. MKX

    Muslims also pray to GOD. So we are happy Obama will say so help me GOd. Now if he says so help me Jesus that maybe a problem for Jews, Muslims and atheists

    January 9, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  16. Kyle

    I'm sorry, I must have missed what the big deal is.

    January 9, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  17. Darren D. Johnson

    Pres "O", Your Mom, Gramps, Wife and kids came by God. God is want U need!

    January 9, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  18. Joe Fattal

    In the begining God created man to his own image. So when you say "so help me god" you really saying " so help me me". Mr. Obama I hope you surrounded yourself with lots of knowledgeable people. You going to need each one them. And I hope they leave the word god out of it.

    January 9, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  19. GuyInVA

    Well spoken, Don.

    January 9, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  20. Ken in NC

    This is a "NO WIN" situation. If PE Obama does not use the term "SO HELP ME GOD" there those among us that will say he refused to say it because he is Muslim. If he does say it there are those among us that say it has no place in public.

    He can't win that one so why don't we just let it go because either way he does it, some are going to make something of it that it is not.

    January 9, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  21. Chris in Va.

    @ raul.... so you think some all powerful being made the Earth in six days then scooped up a handful of dirt and made man, plucked out one of his ribs and made woman.......now THAT'S STUPID

    January 9, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  22. Jim

    If Obama wants the Chief Justice to add "so help me God" to the oath, then it is his right to make that request, and it should be honored. If , "so help me God" was a required part of the oath (which it is not,) then I would be angry. I think that government should remain 100% neutral on religious matters. God and faith (or the lack thereof) are personal matters and our elected official and bureaucrats should stay as far away from such matters as possible.

    I look forward to the day - probably thousands of years from now - when humanity advances to a new stage of enlightenment and realizes that the words and rituals of the world's major religions have no place in our world. Faith in a higher power (if there is one) is an intensenly personal matter. Unfortunately, religious institutions large and small, and the blind people who believe that the Bible is the word of God, when it really is a collection of man made legends, fables and fairy tales (that people will interpret to meet their own needs), continue to be our planet's most destructive force.

    January 9, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  23. Marino

    What if he said :
    – So help me Gods
    – So help me Goddess

    You Christians would be all up in arms!

    January 9, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  24. 113

    Ugh, of course Obama had to have this added because the conservative christians would make this an election issue in 2012.

    There should be no mention of anyone's god in a government ceremony period. He should be saying something like "So help me Founders."

    January 9, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  25. mlaiuppa

    The Constitution states what language must be used. However, it doesn't prohibit additional language.

    If Obama wants to say "So help me God" he will and no one is going to stop him. And his oath won't be nullified for adding the phrase.

    January 9, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
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