City of Knoxville Spokesman: Unlike Mayor and City Employees, Council Members Are Not Required to Include ‘So Help Me God’ When Taking Oath of Office


Newly-elected city council members in Knoxville are not legally required to acknowledge God while taking the oath of office, City of Knoxville spokesman Eric Vreeland told The Tennessee Star on Thursday.

But many other city officials must acknowledge God while taking the oath.

As reported this week, Amelia Parker, Knoxville’s newly elected city council member,  recently took the oath of office — but she chose to disregard the part that mentions God.

The Democratic Socialists of America-endorsed Parker in last year’s election.

“The Knoxville Charter requires incoming Council members to take an oath affirming that they meet qualifications to serve and that they will support the U.S. and Tennessee Constitutions and the City Charter,” Vreeland said in an email to The Star.

The Star sent Vreeland a link to the city’s website mentioning that various officials must include the phrase “so help me God,” while taking the oath.

Section 2.4 of the municipal code reads as follows:

Sec. 2-4. – Oaths of office.
(a)Persons required to take oath of office. Each of the following officers and employees in the administrative service, members of the board of commissioners of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, police officers and firefighters shall be required to take an oath of office before entering upon the discharge of his duties, which oath shall be subscribed by the person taking it and shall be filed and preserved in the office of the city recorder: (1)Officers. The mayor and each director or head of a department. (2)Police officers. Every member of the police department, including any private, special, temporary or substitute policeman which the city finds necessary to appoint. (3)Firefighters. Every member of the fire department who serves on a full time basis.(4)Commissioners of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority. Every member of the board of commissioners of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority.

The exact language of the oath required of these city officials reads as follows:

I, ___________, do solemnly swear that I will support, defend and abide by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Tennessee, and the Charter and Ordinances of the City of Knoxville; that I possess all of the qualifications required by the Charter and Ordinances of the City or by general law for the office that I am about to assume; that I will discharge my duties as ___________ faithfully, honestly and impartially, so help me God.

“There is no specific requirement in either the Charter or City Code that the oath being administered to Council members include the words ‘so help me God,’” Vreeland said.

“The ordinance that you link to specifies the oaths for other positions – Mayor, directors in the executive branch, firefighters, police officers and members of the Airport Authority, but not for Council members.”

Vreeland did not elaborate as to why city council members are exempt from saying “so help me God” while taking the oath of office.

Though the phrase “so help me God” is often included in oaths taken by state and local elected officials, the Tennessee Constitution does not require its inclusion in oaths of office, according to the website of the Tennessee Secretary of State.

As The Star reported in November, members of the Democratic Socialists of America endorsed three candidates for the Knoxville City Council. They did this, apparently, as part of a movement to get candidates elected in states that support U.S. Republican President Donald Trump.

Parker was the only one of the three candidates to win his or her respective election. David Hayes and Charles Al-Bawi fell short.

Parker defeated opponent Amy Midis by a margin of 51 percent to 49 percent.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Amelia Parker” by Amelia Parker. Background Photo “Knoxville City Council” by Brain Stansberry. CC BY 3.0.





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5 Thoughts to “City of Knoxville Spokesman: Unlike Mayor and City Employees, Council Members Are Not Required to Include ‘So Help Me God’ When Taking Oath of Office”

  1. Keith Tipton

    Delzell is correct. Remove the requirement altogether. God’s no politician anyhow.

  2. William R. Delzell

    Eliminate the requirement altogether! Not all taxpaying Americans are religious but every bit as patriotic. These right wing fundamentalists need to show others respect. Of course, an atheist, a polytheist, a multitheist, or an agnostic could lie and say, “….so help me God,” and easily achieve confirmation while a devoutly Christian person who objects to this requirement out of civil libertarian principle could be unfairly denied a job even though this person is religious.

  3. LEdwards

    There has been a Soros Agenda 21 Strategy in all major cities in our nation to “take over” the Government by Anti-American and Anti-Christ liberal Democrats. They have been targeting City Counsels and County Counsels as well. Its really a very simple plan and its been effective so far. Their generals are the department heads and professors in all the colleges and as we all know, they are brainwashing and then using the foot-soldier-students. That is one plan. Statistics show them that the majority of Republican or Christian people will not get involved politically nor do they vote especially in primaries. On the other hand, the city dwellers, liberals, academia will get out and vote. And that’s why they are successful in placing folks like Amelia Parker who is obviously anti-God.

    Soros and his hordes have invested millions in all their different groups and paid big $$$ to hire people to organize their troops at different levels. They have a delegated leader focused just on women, they have a couple just focused on the youth, they have paid leaders just focus on the older generation. When you see the full spectrum of their agenda its frightening.

    On the other hand, there is a solution for the Good People of this nation. Each one of us are in a valley of decision we can be apathic and lay down with the dumb lazy sheep or we can get up and get involved. That means, give up time, volunteer if you are a God fearing conservative and run for school board or county commissioner or other positions. Or give of your time and $ and support those who are running. Start a group to stand for what is right. Purpose to stay in unity, more factions will defeat the cause. Watch your words, don’t attack the person, attack their purpose. Start a PAC to help fund your person running. Pastors and churches read the laws of what you can do. If you have someone in your church running for a position, thoroughly vet them and if they answer the hard questions encourage your people to support them. That is NOT against the laws of church and state.

    Rebellion is never the answer, however, smart strategy works. Working together in unity we are overcomers and we will take back our cities, our counties, our state and our nation. In God we Trust!

  4. John

    Exactly right brother!!

  5. John J.

    All it takes for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing! And thus the cancer spreads, unless good citizens run against and vote against these miscreants!