Democrats plan to strike ‘God’ from oath for House Committee

Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women to ever serve in Congress, was sworn in wearing a traditional Palestinian dress on January 3, 2019, in Washington, D.C. | YouTube: Newsweek/C-Span3

Correction appended

House Democrats are looking to strike the phrase “so help you God” from the oath taken in a committee, prompting one prominent Republican to label them "the party of Karl Marx.”

A draft of the proposed rules for the House Committee on Natural Resources that was recently made public showed certain changes for the rules in red and items to be deleted put in brackets.

For the oath witnesses are supposed to take, the proposed rules remove the phrase “so help you God” while adding the phrase “under penalty of law.”

The proposed rules also add gender inclusive edits, changing “chairman” to “chair” and on multiple occasions replacing “his or her” with “their.”

Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a Republican who is part of the Committee, denounced the proposed rules in an interview with Fox News.

“They really have become the party of Karl Marx,” said Cheney. “It is incredible, but not surprising, that the Democrats would try to remove God from committee proceedings in one of their first acts in the majority.”

Headed by Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona, the Committee on Natural Resources seeks to help preserve the environment and defend the rights of indigenous populations.

Many federal oaths include the phrase “so help me God.” For example, the oath for United States Senators concludes with the phrase.

However, the oath of office for the President of the United States does not include the phrase, but rather figures taking the oath have often unofficially added it in by tradition.

According to a report by the Pew Research Center from earlier this month, the percentage of self-identified Christians in the 116th Congress is 88 percent, or 3 percent smaller than the 115th Congress.

Sixty-three members of Congress, including two Republicans and 61 Democrats, state that they do not identify as Christian. This includes the first Muslim women elected to Congress, Democrats Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

For the past several years, many pundits and political experts have accused the Democratic Party of having a "God problem," or being too secular in their tone and views on religion.

At their 2012 convention, Democrats garnered controversy over not including a reference to God in their party platform and then adding in a reference following three voice votes that had a questionable result.

However, some, including journalist Amy Sullivan, defended the Democratic Party at the time, having a column published by the New Republic in 2012 noting the many examples of pro-faith expression at the convention.

"The Democratic National Convention opens and closes each day's session with prayers, just like the Republican National Convention did," wrote Sullivan.

"The 2012 Democratic platform has a separate section on 'Faith' that includes the lines, 'We know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it inspires.'" 

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Liz Cheney as being a representative of Wisconsin. Cheney serves Wyoming, not Wisconsin.

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