"So Help Me God" Not in Official Presidential Oath

The phrase that's been uttered for more than a century is not required by the Constitution.

Posted: 01/18/2013 02:38 PM EST

Did you know the phrase "so help me God" does not appear in the official presidential oath that President Obama will recite during Monday's inauguration? Believe it.

While every president of the United States is required by the U.S. Constitution to recite the 35-word oath, the phrase does not appear on the document. The words made their first appearance during Chester Arthur's inauguration in September 1881 and every president has been reciting it since despite efforts to have the religious phrase removed.

Before he can begin executing his duties, each president must say, "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," with the option of appending the words "so help me God" to the end of his oath or affirmation.

The phrase has also been used in federal courtrooms since 1789.

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(Photo: Dennis Brack/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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