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So what should an atheist do if being sworn in for a testimony in court? The swearing in question has "...nothing but the truth, so help you God." Can you say,"Yes, I'll tell the truth, but I don't believe in God."?

linxminx 7 Apr 19

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57 comments

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1

They need to change it from the book of lies to the dictionary a book of knowledge. Omit the deity part and add to On my freedom.

11

When I was sworn in as a lawyer, I had spoken beforehand with the judge who was to swear me in. I asked him to leave out the "so help me god" language, because I was an atheist. He left it out, and despite some shocked looks of others in the courtroom, I was sworn in without any reference to mythical beings. Nor did I have to put my hand on a Bible. Hooray! šŸ™‚

Haha, you didn't have to put your hand on a book of lies, and swear to tell the truth.

I've never had to testify, but was wondering. Thanks! Good to know.

7

The oath can be religion neutral, legally you simply need to affirm to tell the truth. There is no requirement that it be done on a holy book or contain any reference to a god.

6

I was actually in that position and complained. I was informed if I said something beforehand, there is a non-god swearing-in. At least in my area.

5

There is an alternative oath for atheists to use. I've been in the situation where in a courthouse they asked me to swear "so help me god" and I said "well I agree with everything but the god part." After a stunned look, the woman got out a book and had me just affirm that what I said was true.

Yep. I was recently sworn as an arbitrator in the NYS court system and the oath was "swear or affirm," with no reference to God or religion ā€” and we were instructed during training to do the same when swearing in anyone giving testimony. It seems this practice is rapidly becoming the standard.

5

I served jury duty and it didn't even come up. They did not have you put your hand on a Bible and you just raised your hand and they said "swear or affirm" and we said "I do" as best as I can remember. It was the same for witnesses.

Exactly.

5

Do you swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth should be enough

It is. I've sworn to tell the truth several times and never once mentioned any gods

5

Here in new zealand you don't have to swear on the bible if you are not religious - you just raise your right hand and read from a card that you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

5

Yes. I would tell in advance that I am not a believer and I will swear without religion interference.

I like the way you worded that.

4

I would say "I affirm" just like Quaker Friends do.

4

enjoy the fact that your oath is by definition meaningless, and you are free to lie through your teeth if you see fit.

4

As an expert witness I always say - yes I'll tell the truth. Simple.

zesty Level 7 Apr 19, 2019
3

Ever wondered just how many people have sworn on the bible when giving evidence, knowing full well that they are lying through their teeth simply because a) no-one would DARE doubt their veracity BECAUSE they swore on a mere book, or, b) because they knew that they could, later, confess to a priest, etc, and gain absolution?

3

Ironic to be expected to promise to tell the truth while grasping a book full of lies.

@Antifred, how about the very first sentence? " In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Fairy tales should begin, "Once upon a time..."

@Antifred ....pick a miracle, any miracle...

@Antifred The onus of proof rests with the one making the assertion, (that miracles happen/ed)

3

Tell a right-wing hater that Rashida Tlabib was sworn into office on Thomas Jefferson's Quran.

They won't believe it, no matter how much you prove it...

But they get so mad it is funny.

@Marcel3405 Agree. But if someone else wants to, that's fine.

3

It was Reagan that added "So help me g_d" to the P.O.T.U.S. oath of office.

It has been an eye roll obligation ever since.

3

I think this only happens in Hollywood movies. Church and State, remember?

3

Iā€™m trying to avoid the court in general... just saying

3

This just means that you don't have to tell the truth... Lol. Jk

3

I personally think that swearing to god would be fine. As I don't believe in god I can then say whatever I want, he, he.

3

i do not know of any legitimate court that requires people to swear on a bible without the option to affirm, biblelessly, instead. if you are a defendant, you have a lawyer, and if you have a lawyer, you can discuss this beforehand and be prepared to ask for a mistrial if you find yourself in a less legitimate court.

g

Yep, yep. Even if they do make you do that; like I said, just say you swear to tell the truth. If you pull a stunt like that, the court could think you are trying to start something. Weather you are trying to put someone in jail, or defending yourself, the court will see that as being negative. Right off the bat that won't look good.

@TheGreatShadow maybe. maybe not. if you're in the kind of court that won't let you affirm instead of swearing you have nothing much to lose already and maybe a stunt is the only hand you've got left to play!

g

3

You don't need to swear To God. You affirm that you will tell the truth.

correct

@lerlo I am also an attorney, but thank you for the confirmation. LOL

3

Sure you can.
If they give a hard time, you can call the FFRF or the ACLU, and sue the
shit out of them.

3

I doubt I will ever be called to testify, but if I was I would decline the Bible swearing in, saying I am not a believer in religion, say that I am the son of a judge (which is a matter of public record) and because of that I believe in telling the truth and respecting the integrity of the courts. They can then believe me or not, I really don't care what they think about my unbelief in deity. I should add tho, that if it were in a case in which I had a personal stake, like testifying in my own defense or in a lawsuit in which I was a party, I might just not make a fuss of it just so the jury wouldn't be biased against me and cause me to get screwed by their prejudices against non-believers. I was talking originally about cases where I would be called as a witness in a criminal case or subpeonaed to testify.

2

Good point. It is a bit of a trap, isn't it.

2

Here Australian Courts one can assert their Atheism freely and simply Affirm to their intention to tell the truth.
I have done so a number of times when called to give evidence and have been on a Jury twice with absolutely NO repercussions at all.

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