People who testify before the U.S. House of Representatives no longer must say “so help me God” under oath, and this reportedly delights Tennessee Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen of Memphis.
As this week’s New York Times reported, House Democrats altered the oath after they assumed a majority over Republicans in January.
Cohen, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, reportedly said the following about people who want “so help me God” to come back:
“I think God belongs in religious institutions: in temple, in church, in cathedral, in mosque — but not in Congress,” the paper quoted Cohen as saying.
“And God doesn’t want to be used.”
In a rebuttal, Chattanooga Times Free Press columnist Clint Cooper told his readers the Founding Fathers used God in many of the country’s founding documents.
“Cohen, at that point, either was misreading history or was sorry he was called out for not having witnesses say ‘so help me God,’ like a child spotted by the teacher while shooting spitballs in class,” Cooper wrote.
According to Cooper, Cohen refused a Republican congressman’s request to include “so help me God” at a Feb 28 committee hearing.
“A Cohen cohort, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, then told the witnesses not to identify themselves if they preferred to use the phrase, saying, ‘We do not have religious tests for office or for anything else,’” Cooper wrote.
According to The New York Times, “in the House of Representatives, to the winner go the spoils.”
“Democrats, the new decision makers, control everything, including what legislation gets a vote and the minutiae of procedural choices, such as whether witnesses must utter the traditional plea for divine aid,” according to The Times.
“Democratic chairmen and chairwomen of several key committees have deemed no such entreaty is necessary.”
Republicans in the House of Representatives, the paper went on to say, are unhappy with the change.
Cooper, meanwhile, said the Democrats’ motive is no mystery.
“Invoking God would mean the existence of an entity more powerful than the federal government. And that’s not what Democrats want to consider,” Cooper wrote.
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