I swear!

This week’s post is inspired by a news clip, which you can watch here:


The federal government and states require people to take an oath before being sworn into office. Jurisdictions vary as to which offices require the oath. I know California is broad in its requirements, because I had to take an oath before becoming a professor at a state university.

The content of the oath varies a bit, but generally the person swears to uphold the US Constitution and to faithfully discharge the duties of the office. If it’s a state office, the person will also swear to uphold the state constitution and laws.

The person who administers the oath varies as well. It might be a judge or another government official.

While some people may choose to lay a hand on the Bible during the oath, that’s tradition rather than a requirement. In fact, several US presidents have opted out of this. Similarly, although oaths may include the phrase “so help me God,” that phrase can be omitted. (For the record, neither the Bible nor that phrase were included in the mass oath-taking when a bunch of us became professors.)

Some people oppose oath-taking, primarily on religious grounds. In those cases, the person can make essentially the same promises–without the Bible or reference to God. Those are generally called affirmations rather than oaths, but they serve the same purpose.


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