Heyo! I'm brand new to the Nexus, so please pardon me for an flubbiness. I wasn't joining the site just to ask this question, but my life has been getting more and more hectic recently and it's seeming inevitable as time goes on.

I won't bore everyone with the long and complicated story leading up to this, but myself and two of my friends/roommates may have to take another roomie to court over not paying utilities. Her family is well off with money and will likely be able to hire a lawyer and I don't want me atheism coming ruining my chances...

To put it bluntly, I don't like the idea of swearing on the Bible. I'm not completely familiar with South Carolina law yet, but I'm positive it's a requirement. Should I make a stand and refuse to swear on it, just go with the flow, or what?

Thank you in advance.

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Non American here.

My understand is that you have the right to make an affirmation in ANY US court. To require an oath would be non constitutional. Besides there are several Christian churches whose members will not take an oath, considering it blasphemous.
There's a thread on that particular subject here http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=503591. It depends where your roommates stand, if they are fine with you standing up for your secular beliefs that's fine but if it damages your case then it's probably worth gritting your teeth if it becomes necessary. Or just ask your legal counsel what you can do.
Well not just that, but some courts still add the "so help me god" phrase. I had to go through that a few years ago. Then what? I suppose an affirmation would still be enough.

Yeah, we still have the "so help me God" phrase in Oklahoma. I just went with it without saying anything (mostly because I'm shy), but later heard that you can ask for an affirmation and by law they have to allow that.


Speaking of which, does anyone know what the raising your right hand thing is about? Does it have religious significance or is it just some cultural thing?

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the phrase in the States' court system:


"Some of the states have specified that the words "so help me God" were used in oath of office, and also required of jurors, witnesses in court, notaries public, and state employees. Where this is still the case, there is the possibility of a court challenge over eligibility, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961), that such state-law requirements violate citizens' rights under the federal Constitution."

(I underlined and bolded)

This also included the Bible-swearing: it has been ruled unconstitutional federally, so no State can force you to do it or penalize you for refusing to comply. This said, if there's a 'jury of peers' witnessing this, it might not be taken so lightly by them. But honestly I have no idea how a trial is conducted in the US, being French and all lol. 

I've just seen stuff on TV, series and documentaries and whatnot...

Hope it still helps a bit! And good luck!


Just raise your right hand as if you are swearing on the Bible and say, "I affirm that I am telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." That is legal and most people won't even notice the difference if you do it smoothly enough.
Raising your right hand is so they can see you don't have your fingers crossed because every 6th grader knows that if your fingers are crossed, it doesn't count.  lol
Thank you all very much. I was a little troubled by the "so help me god" phrase as well, but I figure that the two are so tied together that whatever will work for one, will work for another.

Hopefully this situation doesn't go that far, but we'll see.

Thanks again!
Hopefully you wont have a situation where you have to "pick your battle" - wont have to even consider forgoing your (non)religious beliefs.
Just bring your own copy, "The God Delusion" or the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. LOL

Just affirm.
Just bring your own copy, "The God Delusion" or the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. LOL

My first thought was to swear on a copy of Descartes' Discourse on Method, as that's as close to sacred to me as I could think.

Though a Gospel of Flying Spaghetti Monster would make quite a statement too.

Seriously though, I too would ask legal counsel A) What the exact procedure is and B) if they think it will affect the case. I definitely applaud anyone taking that stand (politely of course). The more often that happens the more likely it is to be addressed down the road. But you also want to consider if it will seriously damage your case.
lol, it hardly matters... but if it helps, when you're swearing on the bible, just remember : They swear on the bible because the criminal is usually a Christian.

Try not to chuckle.




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