The United States Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal (Newdow v. Roberts) by a group of humanists and atheists led by Michael Newdow, a prominent activist and attorney who challenged “under God” in the American Pledge of Allegiance and ”In God We Trust” on American currency in the past.
This time, Newdow and co. challenged Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts in his saying “so help me God” in the presidential inauguration oaths. The suit also attempted to sue “Dr.” Rick Warren and “Dr.” Joseph Lowery Jr. because they had offered prayers at the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals stated that the case had no legal standing and as a result, dismissed it. Shortly thereafter the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal.
Although the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly state that a religious oath is required to gain office, government archives date the usage of “so help me god” all the way back to U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Those who dissaprove of the words “so help me god” and all other things that defy secularism in the government point to Article VI, Paragraph 3 on the U.S. Constitution which states,
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
Those who wish to stick with “so help me god” retorts that the phrase is optional and is therefore protected under the First Amendment.
However, the nay-sayers say that since it’s the President, the individual should not be able to say “so help me God” since, under the same said amendment, the President/government should not endorse a specific religion or doctrine.
Furthermore, opponents of the phrase “so help me God” cite the actual Oath of Office:
I do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
and point out the lack of “so help me God” at the end.