Jump directly to the content

Government Officials and Religious Oaths

Officials may not coerce citizens into engaging in religious exercises.

Federal
State:
Categories:
Key point. Government officials are prohibited by the first amendment "nonestablishment of religion" clause to coerce citizens into making religious oaths or engaging in religious exercises.

A federal appeals court ruled that a federal prosecutor may have violated the constitutional rights of a child abuse suspect by agreeing to dismiss all charges against her if she swore to her innocence in a church with her hand on a Bible. The facts of this case are very unusual, but compelling. Prosecutors, as well as church officials, often agonize over child abuse allegations because of a lack of proof. The accused may offer a convincing denial of the charges, though some evidence of guilt exists. A prosecutor in New York came up with a novel idea-dismissing child abuse charges against a woman if she swore to her innocence in her church with her hand on a Bible. The woman's attorney agreed to ...

Log In For Full Access

Interested in becoming a member? Learn more.

Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

Related Topics:
Posted:
  • May 1, 1997

Related ResourcesVisit Store

50-State Religious Freedom Laws Report
50-State Religious Freedom Laws Report
A review of state laws and court decisions affecting church leaders
Pastor, Church & Law, Fifth Edition
Pastor, Church & Law, Fifth Edition
Learn which local, state, and federal laws apply to religious organizations.