FFRF protects Michigan state employee rights (Nov. 1, 2011)

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has modified a Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) oath-taking practice to permit secular affirmations.

DHS offices throughout Michigan were making employees retake their oaths of office. The complainant informed FFRF that when the oath was administered to the employees, the phrase “so help me God” was included. Employees were not given the option to either swear or affirm. On Oct. 25, 2011, FFRF Staff Attorney Stephanie Schmitt wrote to DHS Director Maura Corrigan, alerting her to the constitutional violation this posed.

On Nov. 1, FFRF received assurance from Corrigan that this protocol would be altered. Her letter noted, “… to better meet the needs of all DHS employees, I have changed my practice to ask staff to affirm or swear. Further, I also now advise staff that they are welcome to omit the words ‘so help me God.’ That language is now entirely optional.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation