There was no religious benediction or invocation prayer at the Inauguration of America’s first President. George Washington’s Oath of Office did not include the words so help me God. Neither did Abraham Lincoln’s Inauguration ceremony include these religious elements. In fact, the use of Christian preachers to give prayers at the Inauguration, and the addition of the phrase so help me God to the Oath of Office didn’t really take hold until the 1930s.
If George Washington and Abraham Lincoln didn’t need to insert Christian religious rituals into their inaugurations, why does Barack Obama feel the need to break with the weight of American tradition, as well as the Constitution, in order to do so?
Sadly, the reason Barack Obama is mixing Church and State with his very first act as President is that he’s seeking to build a political coalition with activists on the Religious Right. That’s a sad statement on the difference in stature between Barack Obama and America’s truly great presidents.
Barack Obama ought to remember that the Oath of Office is a promise to uphold and defend the Constitution, which includes passages outlawing religious tests for public office and banning the government establishment of religion.