Oath vs Affirmation
At various times in one’s life, one may swear by God in front of family and friends to prove a point about themselves or someone else. In a court of law, this swearing by the name of God is referred to as an oath. Although an oath has no legal force, it is meant to be persuasive due to the influence of religion behind it. When a witness is called in a court of law to give a statement, they are asked to take an oath in the name of their religion before speaking. This is done to invoke fear of a higher authority (God Almighty) if they provide false information or do not tell the truth. Another way of making a promise to abide by rules and perform duties faithfully is through an affirmation. So, what is the difference between an oath and an affirmation? Let us take a closer look.
Higher public offices have an oath-taking ceremony to induct new members, and even the President of the United States has to swear in the name of God to fulfill all assigned duties in good faith and to the best of their abilities. An oath can be oral or written, or both, depending on the public office in question. The person taking the oath may have to append their signature on the written oath. As the person taking the oath swears by the name of God, they invite punishment from this higher authority if they break the promise while performing their duties.
An affirmation is also a promise made by a person, but without any reference to God. Some people use this as they are uncomfortable swearing in the name of God or do not have a faith or religion. An affirmation is like a declaration made in words and in front of many people.
An example of an oath: I do swear in the name of God that what I shall state shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (used for witnesses in a court of law).
An example of an affirmation: I do solemnly affirm that what I shall state shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (used for witnesses in a court of law).
- Oath is swearing in the name of God, whereas affirmation is making a promise without any reference to God
- Oath is religious in nature, whereas affirmation is secular in nature
- Both oaths and affirmations are used to ensure truthfulness in statements, particularly in legal settings