I have jury duty today and we just had to take an affirmatiin tthat ended in the words "before your god." Where did that come from?  I am extremely uncomfortable now....

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I don't blame you for feeling uncomfortable, and I presume it was a group oath, so opting for a separate declaration wasn't an option. One option in a group would simply be not to say the words. However, if you ever have to swear an oath individually, here's what you do:

Look the bailiff straight in the eye and tell him or her that you will "solemnly affirm" the oath you are required to take, but that you will not swear by something you do not believe in.

If they won't accept that, then someone has a problem - And It AIN'T YOU!

Loren had it right -- I would just say that you cannot swear by something that you don't believe in and just state that you solemnly affirm.

"Look the bailiff straight in the eye and tell him or her that you will "solemnly affirm" the oath you are required to take, but that you will not swear by something you do not believe in."

Yes, and always make sure you do this before court is in session to avoid contempt charges (not a given, but has happened).

Loren, that won't work.  That "solemnly affirm" crap is for Jehovah's Witnesses.  It still says at the end, "So help me god".   

It's especially galling that those of us who do not evade jury duty with excuses, are asked to abnegate our principles.  You can ask the court clerk to read a different oath with no prayer.  By the way, they will probably deny that "so help me God"  or "before your  God" are prayers.  This is our right and we need not back down!  Alone, or, better, with supporters, you can start a campaign to change the standard oath.  Good luck,  Jessica !

Nope, the right to "affirm the oath" to speak truthfully (without reference to any deity), rather than swear it on a scriptural document of choice; has always been there.

Television and Movies notwithstanding.

It is advisable though, to inform the court beforehand, like I said, bringing up the issue "on the stand" is frowned upon in some judicial circles.

As well, if one is a defendant in any litigation or prosecution where religiosity isn't at issue, it's probably best to play along to avoid the inevitable confirmation bias in the prosecutor, judge and jury.

Yes,  you are absolutely right Richard, our right to simply affirm we will tell the truth has always been our constitutional right.  What I meant was, that the pre-written choices of oath the clerk will read will probably have "god" in them, Even if they label it an alternative affirmation.  

Unfortunately, unless one is himself a witness, or a defendant, he would not have "STANDING" to ask that they change that oath.  When my own freedom is at stake, I don't think I'd be brave enough to say I'm an atheist on the stand.  The next word I hear would be "Guilty!".

"I don't think I'd be brave enough to say I'm an atheist on the stand."

I believe the phrase, "The better part of valour is discretion" come's into play here.

I would proclaim I am an atheist on the stand, if that were at all related to my charges.  EllenBeth Wachs is a heroic atheist activist in Polk County, FL.  She was jailed in solitary confinement for a week.  Beneath some trumped up charges was the fact that she committed the crime of saying she was an atheist, and defending our 1st amendment rights.   

My cowardice would show its sallow face if the charge were some ignoble crime, like theft, or assault.  Then I might have less valor, and more discretion.

"I would proclaim I am an atheist on the stand, if that were at all related to my charges.  EllenBeth Wachs is a heroic atheist activist in Polk County, FL.  She was jailed in solitary confinement for a week.  Beneath some trumped up charges was the fact that she committed the crime of saying she was an atheist, and defending our 1st amendment rights."

Yes, I've been following the exploits of Wachs, as well as her compatriot John Kieffer. Like of of those who defend the Constitution, "real American heroes", not at all like Shakespeare's Falstaff.

"My cowardice would show its sallow face if the charge were some ignoble crime, like theft, or assault.  Then I might have less valor, and more discretion."

Well, if it was in Polk County, FL. I don't think even the staunchest defender of the Establishment Clause would call you a coward, …not for a second. A thug or a thief if found guilty perhaps, but no coward.

Jessica, there is no law anywhere that in taking an oath, albeit in a Court of law, an affidavit, or anything else that is involved with the government, that you have to "swear to god." Loren's correct.  You can do the same thing by simply affirming to tell the truth, or do your duty, or whatever the situation calls for. 

I once had to testify in front of a tribunal of the Illinois Supreme Court.  When the clerk gave me the oath, she asked if I would testify truthfully so help me god.  In front of everyone in the room, I said "No."  You could have heard a pin drop. I told her I don't swear to gods of any kind, shape, form, stripe or color. I followed it up with, "If you want to know if I'm going to tell the truth, the answer's yes."  They then gave me an affirmation. 

You can do the same. If anyone questions you, your response should be something to the effect that you're asking if I will tell the the truth. Well, I just did, and before we even got started. How much more truthful can I be?

OH that is awesome Pat! Way to go!

It was a group oath and I was so shocked that I did not say anything.  I'm just glad I have a place to share events like this.  On the way to the court house I was listening to the local radio and a commercial came on with a local preacher speaking.  After he shared prayers he then began calling Facebook "jesus' Facebook."  What is sad is he is not far off.  Facebook is so full of religion that it makes me sick.  That is why I shared the story here and not there.

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