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General Discussion
Raise your right hand?

If there is a seperation of church and state, then why do we have to put our hand on the bible before we testify in court? What judicial reason is there for this?

You are never required to put your hand on a bible before you testify in court.

Sorry, I guess, "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god", confused me.

The "so help you god" statement needs to be removed to have a complete seperation. How long ago did they stop using the bible? Just out of curiosity.

You have the option of swearing or affirming in court. If you affirm, there's no reference to god.

This is an important issue that I don't feel is addressed strongly enough by atheists. Many atheists think it's not a big deal because you never have to recognize God and can choose a secular affirmation.

Not good enough. The mere allowance of religious inclusion in affirmation is problematic. It can create an inappropriate bias among the jury.

Imagine your average American jury listening to testimony from several people who all swear in the name of God and then hearing testimony from someone who takes a secular affirmation that doesn't include God. Do you really think that none of the jurors will weigh this testimony differently?

Giving a secular affirmation will be likely to hurt the credibility of testimony heard by religious people. Beyond that, there's the additional problem of them having to request a separate affirmation. To many mind-sets this will paint the person as whiny and un-American. "What, the traditional oath isn't good enough for you?"

Allowing any mention of gods puts unnecessary personal information before the jurors that is likely to taint their perception of the testimony. It aides religious biases and bigotry and offers no benefit. Allowing for secular affirmations does nothing to alleviate this and, when used, may well make the problem worse.

That was going to be my next point. Discrimination against atheists.

It's discrimination period. We all know that the bible is the only book that many juries in American courts would consider holy enough to prevent lying.

The American justice system permits us to declare or affirm in court, in lieu of taking an oath on the bible. Still, I think most anyone would know a non-bible swearing witness might be perceived by some not to have equal trustworthiness as a bible swearing witness in an American court. This could be very prejudicial in a court of law.

Requiring the swearing of an oath while placing a hand on the Bible violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution. Freedom of belief and religion are guaranteed by the First Amendment and protected by the Fourteenth Amendment from infringement by the States.

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From the officers:

The audio and video from Steve Bratteng's July 13th lecture are now available.