Presidential Oath of Office
The Presidential Oath of Office is fairly straight forward:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
One thing not so straight forward is the phrase that often follows that oath, “So help me God.” Some traditions attribute that to George Washington. Others are less certain. One thing for sure is that it was not part of the original oath.
Under the Judiciary Act of 1789, all US Judges and offices have the phrase in their oaths. Even before that many State constitutions and even the Second Continental Congress mandated that the words be spoken as part of their oaths.
One exception comes in another display of wordplay. Actually using the phrase “I do solemnly swear…” is what makes the above an actual oath. Which is fine except that followers of certain religions are not permitted to make oaths as such. Especially while invoking God. Certain Christian sects and Quakers among them. Since a good portion of the men that would potentially be taken this version of the oath of office may fit those categories exceptions needed to be made.
As such for those men, the oath is transformed into a simple affirmation. “I do solemnly affirm..” In those cases “So help me God” is to be admitted. Some presidents upon being sworn in have used variations of these phrases. No one though can top Abraham Lincoln. At his second inaugural, he not only repeated the oath in full but then kissed the bible that he swore upon.
The pic above is the cheat sheet that Gerald Ford used as well as the bible he swore it upon.