A few days ago, I read a question on a social network sire about why the words "so help me God" were included in the oath of office for the President of the United States. This person insisted that using those words was a violation of separation of church and state.
Those words – separation of church and state, of course, do not appear in any of our official founding documents. Most people know that, but they insist on tossing them about as if they were. Instead, the First Amendment gives us the right to practice our faith and it protects us from having the government create its own religion and insisting that we all join that religion.
I was curious about how the words "so help me God" came to appear in the oath of office, and discovered that they were not originally part of the oath, but were added by George Washington. Every President since then, except for Theodore Roosevelt, has repeated those same words.
In researching past inaugurations, I discovered that when George Washington took office, church bells rang as people assembled in the churches "to implore the blessing of Heaven on the nation, its favor and protection to the President, and success and acceptance to his administration." (See Washington’s Inauguraton)
I also learned that after Washington’s inauguration speech, "he and the members went in procession to St. Paul’s Church (which, with the other churches, had been opened for prayers at nine o’clock that morning), and there they invoked the blessing of Almighty God upon the new government." (See George Washington’s Inauguration)
Another fact about inauguration addresses: Every Inaugural Address has mentioned God or a spiritual creator and spiritual guide. (See Inauguration History)
Sadly, today’s history books leave out the spiritual unity of our founding fathers. It should not. Whether our founding fathers were were Christians or Diests, they believed in one God.
Letting us know that these leaders – and subsequent Presidents and leaders – had faith in some higher power does not take away the rights of any individual to think differently. Keeping the information from us is a travesty, however. We deserve to know what really happened in history, not what some wish had happened.
Whether our history is what we would term "good" or "bad" we need to have the entire truth before us, so that the same mistakes are not made over and over again. And that means including the faith of our forefathers, or the lack thereof.