Dear Question Guy: How do people swear in court if they don’t believe in God? Also, if there is an acceptable oath that doesn’t involve “the help of God,” why don’t they just use it for everyone? — Heidi Summers, somewhere, out there
If you can’t scare ’em into the truth with threats of the wrath of God, use a little earthly arm-twisting. People who won’t swear to God are asked to “affirm” that they’ll tell the absolute truth, “under penalty of perjury.” In other words, you better tell us the truth about when you saw that white Bronco parked by the gate and what O.J. ordered at McDonald’s or we’ll lock you up too. Courtroom procedure isn’t usually fertile ground for creative changes. And in jury trials, those in the know feel that anyone “affirming” isn’t quite as believable as someone willing to swear to God. Some lawyers like to avoid affirmations, if they can.