Democrats omit 'so help you God' from oath

Rep. Diana DeGette, chair of the Energy and Commerce’s Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, swears in witnesses on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. | Screenshot: C-SPAN

A Democratic congresswoman from Colorado chose to omit “God” when administering the oath to witnesses during a hearing on the Trump administration’s family separation policy.

Rep. Diana DeGette, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, asked witnesses on Thursday to raise their right hands to be sworn in. She left out “so help you God” when she asked, “Do you swear that the testimony that you’re about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” as reported by

Immediately after, Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., pointed out, “Madam Chairman, I believe the oath was incorrect and incomplete.”

DeGette responded, “This is the … oath we use and this is the oath we’re going to use today.”

The omission comes a week after another Democrat-controlled committee — the House Committee on Natural Resources — was considering a proposal to remove the phrase “so help you God” from its oath. 

The committee chose not to adopt the change, with chairman Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., saying the proposal was a mistake. Rep. Jefferson Van Drew, D-N.J., said it would be “hurtful and harmful to go out of our way to take it out.”

“I do think that we could use a little bit more of God, not less,” said Rep. Garrett Graves, R-La. “I get concerned about the thought that we’re not making an oath to something that’s higher, something that’s bigger, something that is above us.”

The Thursday hearing led by DeGette was held to examine what the congresswoman called a “shameful family separation policy,” in which thousands of children were separated from their families when they crossed the southern border illegally.

DeGette wasn’t the only one to leave out “God” during a House hearing this week.

The day before, Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., swore in witnesses at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence prevention. Nadler asked the witnesses: “Do you swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that the testimony you’re about to give is true and correct to the best of your knowledge, information and belief?”

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., soon after pointed out that “so help me God” was left out.

In this case, Nadler apologized and repeated the oath with the phrase “so help you God.”

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