On National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Steve Inskeep reported about the source of the oath of office that US presidents recite. In the story, Mr. Inskeep notes that the tag phrase “So help me God” does not appear in the official oath, as noted here a few days ago.
Mr. Inskeep discussed the oath with Marvin Pinkert, executive director of the National Archives Experience. Mr. Pinkert reviews the history of changes in the drafts of the US Constitution and he notes, “If I went up to 12 people on the street and said, ‘Where would you find the instructions for the oath of office for the president of the United States?’ I doubt that many of them would tell me, “It’s actually written into the Constitution.'” However, he points out that “It’s the only sentence in quotes in the entire Constitution.” There is no reference to God in that quoted statement:
“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.”
In the print version of the story, Mr. Inskeep’s question about the reference to God is not reproduced. You’ll have to listen to the audio version of the story to learn that there is no legal basis for including the phrase (unless its edited out of the recording). You’ll hear Mr. Pinket note that he doesn’t have an audio recording of President George Washington’s recitation of the oath, so he can’t say whether Mr. Washington started the false linkage of God to the presidential oath. Who knows whether Mr. Obama will continue it?