WATCH: Democrats remove ‘so help me God’ from House committee oaths
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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 4, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Democrats controlling the U.S. House of Representatives have removed “so help me God” from the oath witnesses take before testifying before several of the committees they control, months after backing down from a proposal from one committee to strike the phrase.
“I think God belongs in religious institutions: in temple, in church, in cathedral, in mosque — but not in Congress,” Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TX), chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, explained, the New York Times reported last month. He claimed that Republicans’ support for the longstanding language constituted “using God,” and “God doesn’t want to be used.”
“We do not have religious tests,” declared Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chair of the Judiciary Committee.
Striking the religious language is the most controversial of the procedural changes ushered in by Democrats after winning the House majority last November. Lesser changes include replacing “chairman” and “chairwoman” with the gender-neutral title of “chair,” and the Natural Resources Committee replacing plastic water bottles with reusable glassware.
“I am a sinner, I make mistakes every single day, but I do think that we could use a little more of God, not less,” Rep. Garret Graves, a Louisiana Republican, told his colleagues on the Natural Resources Committee in response to dropping God.
“The intention behind [‘so help me God’] was to express the idea that the truth of what was being said was important not just in the moment, but would go into eternity, and someone was watching and would ultimately be our judge,” Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) argued. “Some would call that mere symbolism, but to many of our founders, it was deeper than that.”
In January, a draft of a rules package from the Natural Resource Committee was leaked to the public showing “so help me God” marked for deletion, replaced with the phrase “under penalty of law.” At the time, Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) claimed the proposed cut was simply a “mistake.”
“We need more of God, not less!” Rev. Franklin Graham said of the controversy, the Christian Post reports. “God is our Creator & the maker of the universe. He is present everywhere; He is not limited to churches or temples. The root of the issue is that many politicians don’t want God in any part of their politics or our country’s business because His standards condemn their sins.”
The controversy echoes a scandal from the 2012 Democrat National Convention, during which delegates voted to remove references to God from the party platform. The convention quickly reversed itself after video of the voice vote went viral.