Talk:Oath of office of the President of the United States

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Claim that all have sworn on a bible[edit]

Someone had claimed that all presidents had sworn on a Bible and said the words Washington added. I found a counterexample (Roosevelt) so I've revised the language here. I also added the Nixon reference about using two bibles and added a source in the See Also section for both of my claims. There are disagreemnts of the religion of several of the Presidents, and not all oaths were taken in public, so there are few witnesses to those occasions. For instance, Coolidge was sworn by his father (a notary public) in his father's house in Vermont. For many of the presidents who are attributed with swearing on bibles, nothing is known about those bibles, leading me to wonder whether they actually used a bible. --Dbackeberg

"as is customary in the united states"[edit]

I want to see a citation claiming that "so help me God" is "customary". I'm yanking the sentence that says "so help me God" wasn't something Washington just made up on the spot. --Dbackeberg

The claim that 'George Washington added the words "so help me God" at the end of the oath.' is false. GW did not append shmG in either his 1st or 2nd inauguration, nor did John Adams. Chester Arthur did but few if any presidents before him did. See http://www.nonbeliever.org/commentary/shmG.html

Unbiased, Objective, and Balanced Scholarship?[edit]

The biggest problem with Soller's insistence that Washington did not say "so help me God" is this: he's too ideologically motivated, too extreme, and does not qualify his assertions in the way that professional scholars generally are inclined to do.

Ideological Motivation[edit]

Soller's invocation of Mike Newdow speaks for itself. If one does not believe or know that Newdow is an atheist crusader who has a personal axe to grind with his "research," then one is clearly uninformed. Soller gives every indication that he too has some sort of personal project to accomplish with his "historical research." This project is not just to increase the body of knowledge among historians. He has some sort of political, religious, or ideological motivation at the root of his insistence that GW did not say "so help me God."

Too Extreme[edit]

The evidence that George Washington did or did not say "so help me God" is inconclusive. A case is made (by the likes of Dr. Church and Dr. Medhurst) that Irving's report is consonant with all the circumstantial evidence of the event, particularly the coronation features of the event. A case is made to the contrary on the grounds that there has yet to be found any contemporaneous verbatim report of the phrase being used by Washington at his inauguration. Neither side has the smoking gun: Irving doesn't suffice as such and neither does Count Moustier. Notice that scholars like Church and Medhurst, who are inclined to accept Irving's account, don't do so with the absolutist pronouncements that Soller and Newdow make. They don't say "Washington definitely said it." What they say is that their interpretation of the evidence inclines them to accept Irving's report.

Proper Qualification of Claims[edit]

If Soller were a trained and scholarly historian, he would speak with similar language. He would say something like "the evidence leads me to doubt Irving's report." Instead, he and Newdow come out with amateurish arrogant claims that Irving's report is categorically false. Soller is too extreme and reckless and as such has to be carefully watched in terms of his contribution to this article.

The fact that Soller claims that those who differ from him are somehow illegitimate "tresspassers" shows that he is far less interested in scholarly dialogue than ramrodding his ideology into the text of this encyclopedia.

prospective history[edit]

Reference 57 is a prospective report of what was planned to happen on 20 Jan 2013. I've recently seen multiple occurrences of people writing history on Wikipedia before it happens. The notation for "January 21, 2013 (upcoming)" is currently satisfactory and addresses the issue by flagging it as prospective. Eventually, future historians at Wikipedia will get bit.