A committee in the U.S. House of Representatives considered making the words "So help me God" optional for witnesses who appear before it, but quickly dropped the idea after criticism from conservatives.
House committees have the power to invite or subpoena witnesses to offer testimony. When people testify before committees, they are sworn to tell the truth with an oath that's very similar to what you might hear in a courtroom.
The House Committee on Natural Resources has in the past used a witness oath that reads, "Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony that you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?" Its proposed new version read, "Do you solemnly swear or affirm, under penalty of law, that the testimony that you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?"
The Fox News Channel and other right-wing media outlets assailed the committee. U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told the far-right network, "[The Democrats] really have be come the party of Karl Marx."
Democrats quickly backtracked. U.S. Rep. Jefferson Van Drew of New Jersey, a committee member, issued a statement saying it would be "hurtful and harmful" for the committee "to go out of our way to take it out."
But not all committee members agreed. U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D. Calif.) argued that the oath is problematic from a church-state standpoint. "All of these trappings of religion and God in these oaths certainty have not kept an awful lot of people from lying under oath," Huffman said...