FFRF Halts Marriage Oath

A requirement that applicants for marriage licenses and certificates state an oath to the “everliving God” in Mesa County, Colo., was ended by attorney Robert R. Tiernan, on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and one of its Mesa County members.

The Foundation was contacted by a Lifetime Member in Grand Junction, Colo., whose daughter had encountered the religious oath this spring. When she and her fiance protested, they were told they had to take the oath in order to obtain a license.

Although the Colorado statutes include the phrase “by the everliving God,” the statutes also provide “an alternative form of affirmation for anyone who has conscientious scruples against swearing an oath to a deity,” Bob Tiernan advised the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder in May.

He further noted that the Colorado Supreme Court, in Pepe v. Velarde, a 1980 case, held that although jurors are required to state affirmations, they are not required to swear an oath to the “everliving God.” Although it took persistence by Tiernan to receive confirmation, in July the Mesa County Attorney’s Office shared an office memo e-mailed to staff in June. The e-mail (see copy this page) by Assistant Chief Deputy Clerk and Recorder Jackie Campbell satisfactorily informed staff:

“No oath is required to be given. (I have a legal opinion . . . that our office need not require applications to take an oath before we issue a marriage license.)”

It pays to complain!

Freedom From Religion Foundation