The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is asking Barack Obama to ditch God and the Bible during his upcoming inauguration ceremony when he takes the oath of office for another four years as president.
Following his re-election, the organization posted an open letter to Obama online, urging him to favor secularists during the ceremony and to not use the phrase “so help me God” during his oath or swear on the Bible.
“You are not beholden to any future constituency,” wrote FFRF attorney Andrew L. Seidel. “This term is a chance to do something that no president in recent memory has done: reach out to secular Americans. In the past, that might have been politically costly, but this recent election shows that it will be politically costly not to reach out to secular America. We are the future. Use this second term to build a legacy by rejecting the way this country politicizes religion.”
“When you stand to reaffirm your oath, do so using the language of the Founders. Eliminate the religious verbiage,” he continued. “While you’re at it, why not place your hand on the Constitution instead of a Bible?”
During his inauguration in 2009, Barack Obama took the oath of office as administered by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, in stating, “I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will execute the Office of President of the United States faithfully and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God.”
In addition to reciting the oath during the official ceremony, he also reenacted the moment a second time in the White House due to a slip-up onstage.
According to historical information, America’s first president, George Washington, took the oath of office on the Bible. While it is disputed as to whether or not he used the phrase “so help me God” in his oath, his presidential address often made reference to the Divine Creator.
“[I]t would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States,” he said. “In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.”
As of press time, the Obama administration had not responded to FFRF’s request to secularize the oath. The organization states that it will not sue Obama over the matter if he proceeds, but is rather imploring him to leave God and religion out of the equation during the inaugural ceremony.
Obama is set to be sworn-in for his second term in office on January 21, 2013.