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Watchdog Group to Rehnquist: Stop Religious Ad Libbing of Presidential Oath

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is putting pressure on Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist to forswear religion when he presides at George W. Bush's presidential oath-taking.

The Madison, Wis.-based watchdog group earlier wrote Bush asking that he not make religious ad libs to the precise language of the oath, which is provided for in the U.S. Constitution. The oath prescribed is godless and bible-less, the Foundation noted.

Art. 2, Sect. 1, Clause 8 provides the following oath or affirmation:

"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."

Foundation president Anne Gaylor wrote the Chief Justice: "We urge you to honor the dictates of our secular and godless Constitution by adhering strictly to the Constitutional oath of office."

It would be appropriate for the president-elect to place his hand on a copy of our Constitution, Gaylor suggests, "whereas introducing a religious element is misleading and divisive and sends an exclusionary message to the many, many Americans who do not worship or adhere to the Christian bible."

"What better way to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States than by faithfully reciting the oath as the Constitution gives it?" Gaylor asked.

"Longtime persistence in abuse of the Constitution is not rationale for defending such a violation," Gaylor added.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) working since 1978 to preserve, protect and defend the Constitutional separation of church and state.

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