FFRF ends religious oath in federal court (April 13, 2013)

FFRF Staff Attorney Liz Cavell contacted Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Conley on March 29 to request that he change the language of the Oath for Admission for the Western District of Wisconsin. Every new attorney applying for admission to practice in the district was required to take this oath. FFRF had received a request to help from a concerned atheist who didn’t feel the need to swear a professional oath to a supreme being before obtaining admission to practice.

The previous oath stated: “I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States; that I will faithfully discharge my duties as an Attorney and Counselor; and that I will demean myself uprightly and according to law and the recognized standards of ethics of the profession, so help me God.”

In the letter Staff Attorney Liz Cavell explains: “This oath, as written, does not allow an appropriate alternative for those who object to it for reasons of personal conscience. An applicant for admission who objects to swearing an oath ending ‘so help me God’ contacted us. Applicants with no belief in a god and those of certain religions (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses) may object to the oath.”

FFRF requested that there be a secular affirmation available for any person who does not with to swear, “So help me God.” Clerk of Court Peter Oppeneer responded with a letter on April 3: “The website has been modified to eliminate the clause from the oath.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation