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First Liberty Briefing

First Liberty Briefing is an exclusive podcast hosted by First Liberty Institute’s Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys. In about 90-seconds, three times a week, Jeremy recalls the stories that have shaped America’s religious liberty, from the founding era to current legal battles and more. It’s an insider’s look at the stories, cases, people, and laws that have made America the world’s leader in protecting religious liberty.
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Feb 21, 2018

The Framers inserted a couple of words in the Oaths Clause to protect the religious conscience of citizens taking oaths. Learn how they implemented this protection at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.


On our last episode, we discussed the Religious Test Clause, found in Article VI of the United States Constitution. Today, I’d like to discuss the clause just before it: the “Oaths Clause.”

In practical terms, the Oaths Clause required federal officials to be bound to their office with an “oath or affirmation” that they would support the Constitution.

Most immediately, that language came in stark contrast to the oath the new Americans once swore to England’s King. No longer would Americans swear allegiance to a single human; rather, their duty in office would be in service and support of the Constitution and, by extension, to the “we the people” mentioned in its preamble.

You probably understand the part about oaths, but, why did the framers insert the “or affirmation” part? The answer reveals our country’s commitment to recognizing that its government should neither compel, nor compromise the religious conscience of its citizens.

Some religious beliefs prevent the taking of oaths of any kind, save an oath to God alone. It may seem insignificant upon first glance, but by inserting the word “or” in the Oaths Clause and giving the option to affirm support of the Constitution, the framers made the official policy of the United States that it would show deference to the religious conscience of its citizens.

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.

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