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A Reply to Paul Marks.

You won’t get me now or ever to swear on the Bible, the Torah, the Qu’ran, the collected works of JK or anything else.

My word is my bond. Simples.

I would shed blood, tears and toil to defend my village (on the outskirts of Manchester) and if people of any faith or none (such as me) bled, sweat and toiled with me to save my England and their England then I would gladly be at their side – regardless of their faith. Our country is far from ideal but it ain’t Somalia. And that is worth fighting for. I mean the only time I was a pirate was playing the Sid Meier game “Pirates” and that was on a Commodore Amiga.

I would try to avoid dying for my country* but if push comes to Noel Chavasse I’d like to think I would stand. I would probably be bloody useless on the frontline but I would stand. I’m more a backroom lad. But that is by the by and every spear needs a shaft. And I am part of the shaft.

Yes, I, un-baptised heathen though I am, would fight, kill and die for England. It is my country. And there are much worse places to come from. I could have been Yemeni – that would have been hilarity wouldn’t it?

I don’t believe in God (well I am a Spinoza-ish pantheist – sometimes) but asking me to swear an oath to God is just wrong. And it is wrong because the meat of it is swearing something I do believe in (such as telling the truth ot being a loyal soldier) but but swearing it by something I don’t believe in would make a total mockery of an oath I would wish to swear with utmost solemnity. Not least because if I went into battle I also wouldn’t want the person next to me to have sworn an oath he or she didn’t believe in either…

I don’t believe in God. I do believe in the defence of the Realm. If I became a soldier, sailor or airman why should I have to add on a belief in something I just don’t believe in and moreover would not that make my deep oath utterly meaningless? Anyhow, why can’t agnostics fight! Or atheists? Why does disbelief in God mean disbelief in everything?

* “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country.” General George S Patton.


  1. Paul Marks says:

    Better (a thousand times better) an honourable atheist (such as Randian Objectivists – or Nick) than the phony “Social Gospel” crowd.

    As the Scholastics used to say…..

    “Natural law is the law of God – but if God did not exist natural law would be EXACTLY THE SAME”

    Not just physical law – but the moral law also.

    By the way – I have never asked you to swear (rather than affirm), so I am not sure what you are replying to.

  2. NickM says:

    Well swearing to join the airforce.

  3. Ah – now I see what you mean Nick.

  4. Mr Ed says:

    I would expect that Paul Marks would be very pragmatic in choosing allies or co-belligerents, untroubled by niceties or formalities. I recall that Quakers regarded taking oaths as absurd, as they would only speak truth, so by implication, taking an oat(h) implied that otherwise you would lie.

    I too fail to see what you are replying to, and as we all should know, replying to Paul sometimes requires taking a very deep breath, as he may go into more depth than the Marianas Trench may contain.

  5. John Galt says:

    Interesting to note that it was a religious order, the Quakers (with which Nick has passing familiarity) that brought the concept of “affirmation” into the courtroom as they would not swear on the bible in a court of law, so the thief was found not guilty and the Quaker was found guilty “as a concealer of Felony, for refusing an Oath to Witness for the King”

    Rex vs William Brayn

    With respect to the legislation as defined by the Oaths Act 1978

    5. Solemn affirmations
    (1) Any person who objects to being sworn shall be permitted to make his solemn affirmation instead of taking an oath.
    (2) Subsection (1) above shall apply in relation to a person to whom it is not reasonably practicable without inconvenience or delay to administer an oath in the manner appropriate to his religious belief as it applies in relation to a person objecting to be sworn.
    (3) A person who may be permitted under subsection (2) above PART II to make his solemn affirmation may also be required to do so.
    (4) A solemn affirmation shall be of the same force and effect as an oath.

    6. Form of affirmation
    6.-(l) Subject to subsection (2) below, every affirmation shall Form of be as follows:-
    ” I, do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm,” and then proceed with the words of the oath prescribed by law, omitting any words of imprecation or calling to witness.

    (2) Every affirmation in writing shall commence:- “I, of , do solemnly and sincerely affirm,” and the form in lieu of jurat shall be ” Affirmed at this day of 19 , Before me.”

    So doesn’t require any religious text and is just as binding. For myself, I’d swear on a copy of the Silmarillion if they’d let me.

    I wonder what Jedi’s and Pastafarians do? I mean they actually HAVE a Gospel to swear upon. Maybe if they brought a copy with them… The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

  6. NickM says:

    Well, yes I am up to point partially influenced by Da Friends – I’ve tended their gaffe for six years and it gets you thinking but basically I do like their not swearing oaths and that a handshake does the deal. I am not a Griend but I like that about them. The endless committees achieving nowt less so.

  7. Mr Ed says:

    There is now in England and Wales a pagan oath ‘I swear by all that I hold sacred’. I was recently involved in a case where the first witness wished to swear either on the Bible and the Koran together, or his own form of wording, leading the Judge into a little speech about the history of oaths, not as comprehensive as JG’s piece, I was tempted to chip in with observations about Catholic Emancipation and Quakers, who surely could simply declare themselves as Quakers to ensure that any doubts were resolved.

    I heard a magistrate ask on Radio 4 for the oath to be simplified, as he thought that people can’t understand it or the implications, and how they spoke the oath influenced is view of their credibility. I think that part of the problem is that a lot of people are uncertain if they believe in God and are embarrassed to take on oath on the Bible if of Christian heritage, but think that an affirmation is an atheist act, and they might be agnostic and simply uncertain.

    I did hear one party ask a witness of they were a Christian as he thought that the witness was lying and had taken the oath on the Bible, rather than asking or an explanation for a discrepancy. The case lasted 5 years.

  8. John Galt says:

    I’d hardly call it “comprehensive” Mr Ed, just a bit of cut and paste from legal history stuff and the legislation from UK Gov. I admit the bit about oaths and affirmations probably is only of interest to those of us who find constitutional history interesting, but if you’re going to be a libertarian its useful to know how the ties that bind came about.

    Actually, that’s an interesting point. I feel a post on “101 How to Write a Constitution” coming on.

  9. NickM says:

    I am a Dudist Minister so I’d have to swear on a DVD of the “Big Lebowski” in my dressing gown and creature-feet whilst drinking a White Russian.

    If (and this is very Dudist that I haven’t been arsed yet yo give them $5 yet).

    But when I do I will in various US States be able to legally able to marry people.

    So, you want to get hitched then I need a flight, five bucks and a few drinkies.

    And the Dude Abides.

  10. John Galt says:

    Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man!

    The Dude doth indeed abide.

  11. RAB says:

    The Politicians Oath…

    I swear to tell a lie, a whopping great big lie, and compound that lie with even bigger lies when caught out, so help me Mammon.

  12. John Galt says:


    Courts used to be vaguely your baby, if someone wanted to give an oath (not affirm) and they were of say the xyz faith and brought their religious text with them, I presume they’d be able to swear on that?

    Even if they were Discordianists and brought a copy of The Principia Discordia, would they be allowed to swear an oath on it or forced by the judge / magistrate to affirm?

    Isn’t the very essence of multiculturalism that all religions are morally relative and therefore equal?

  13. RAB says:

    John, I resigned from the Crown Court in 1982. Witnesses either swore the oath, which was the more usual, just to get the formality out of the way (and it was and is considered a formality by most, not a solemn binding contract religious or secular) or they affirmed. Much more unusual back then. I presume we had a copy of the Koran on hand for Muslims, but I never actually saw anyone swear on it.

    During my time as an Officer of the Court I had occasion to actually be a Witness in a Court case. As an Atheist I chose to affirm.And I believe that that choice made me a more credible witness in the eyes of the Court than just going through the motions as was the norm at the time, because I had taken the trouble to do so.

    These days? Who the fuck knows? You can probably swear on a DVD of Star Wars… the Return of the Jedi, cos you’re a Jedi Knight!

  14. John Galt says:

    Didn’t Adrian Mole claim to have sworn an oath on a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin?


    Bloody kids today…

  15. RAB says:

    Oh and we of The Discordian Order of Druids ( culvert members 2) salute you and your long memory John. ;-)

    Alas there has been a falling out of late when one faction point blank refused to be Guarantour of the others website and debts, as said member has been emotionally, spiritually and most definately economically incontinent for the last 30 years.

    But hey, that’s Discordianism!

  16. Mr Ed says:

    JG in England today, a witness must swear an oath and may swear on the Holy Book of choice of a major religion, Bible, Koran, Talmud, or whatever books the Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists use, or take the pagan oath, or affirm.

    I challenge no one to pretend to be a Quaker and offer to swear an oat.

  17. Paul Marks says:

    I left a reply to this – but it does not seem to have appeared.

    No matter.

  18. NickM says:

    Like to see it Paul. The site seemed to be down though I’m not sure because so was my internet in general.

  19. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    Dear Sweet Mother of Jesus, this is the sort of bullshit that comes from England’s RE instruction.

    So a witness swears on a holy book. And what happens if he lies? Does the book burst into flames and thus identify him as a liar?

    This is nothing more than voodoo. It is in no way Christian.

  20. John Galt says:

    I think that’s fair comment really, it’s just a piece of theatre that we’ve retained since the time when we genuinely were a religious people and actually did believe that to take an oath before god (regardless of whether we are holding a copy of the bible or not) was a solemn undertaking and we would go to Hell for not obeying the 9th commandment.

    I doubt whether the majority taking the oath today even understand the concept of Hell let alone believe that false witnesses would be condemned there.

    There is a very casual attitude to lying for no real reason in the youth of today. Then again I thought this was an interesting viewpoint on the subject:

    Why swear on a Bible? <- Guardian CiF link!!!!

  21. Paul Marks says:

    As I have said many times before ……

    This is nothing to do with forbidding people to affirm (rather than swear).

    The purpose of the left is (as always) two fold.

    Firstly to destroy an old ceremony – to cut people off from the past. from the history of their country.

    And to undermine the idea that there is anything above the President. To destroy the personal relationship between officers and God (via the oath) that is above the orders of the President.

    An good atheist (such as a Randian Objectives or Nick) will say “we do not need God – we have the Constitution”.

    But that will not be allowed either.

    They will be told (they are already are being told – and have for years) that the SUPREME COURT decides what the Constitution – not their personal (individual) reading and study in relation to their oath.

    Who appoints the Supreme Court?

    The President does.

    Even if Chief Justice Roberts was not a coward (and he is a coward – witness his vote on Obamacare) it will soon not matter.

    Barack Obama already has four votes in his pocket – all he needs is a fifth vote.

    Then all Earthly authority will be in the hands of the Progressive movement.

    Already conservative officers (religious or NONreligious) are being removed – from the army, the navy, the marines, and (yes) the USAF.

  22. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    No, John,

    It’s not about religiosity. It’s about superstition. There is nothing Christian about swearing on a sacred text. In fact there are Christian scriptural prohibitions against swearing on a book. This is nothing more than half-arsed voodoo, the same as the Anglican idea of “consecrated” burial ground.

  23. John Galt says:

    Sorry PST, it’s all invisible sky fairies to me and I can’t really differentiate between religion and superstition on any practical level.

    Apologies if you or others have religious views, but given their way I would probably be stoned to death for my own sexual pecadillos* and that doesn’t seem to vary much by religious order.

    Although I’m not per se an atheist, as I can’t prove the nonexistence of god, my agnosticism would be along the Spinozist lines if it can be said to exist at all. It’s a bit like quantum vacuum zero-point energy, there but vaguely indeterminate, especially to myself.

    * A form of chutney

  24. Julie near Chicago says:

    JG, I couldn’t get your link to work, but if anyone’s interested the column is here.

    However, Brown must be an ass. So “there’s a little Randian in all of us”? And what, pray tell, is wrong with that?

    Never mind, he tells us what’s wrong with that:

    Now, it’s no use whatever to say that people ought to value other things – let’s call them values, for short – rather than their own self-interest. Perhaps they ought to, but they often don’t. If all the courts had to deal with were honest misunderstandings there would be very little need of law. Nor is it clear where this binding “ought” comes from in the first place. (For the avoidance of predictable comments, I am not claiming that the “ought” must come from religion; just that it doesn’t come from reason). It’s hard to see how you could persuade a dedicated follower of Ayn Rand, for example, that it is wrong to lie in court even when telling the truth would have unpleasant consequences.

    The problem is more that there isn’t quite enough Randian in most of us. I just don’t think he understands Miss Rand’s position….

  25. John Galt says:

    I’m not sure about that.

    In Ayn Rand’s view she expressed that if the system is against you then it is in your own rational self-interest to protect yourself and indeed Dagny Taggart lied when John Galt* was captured to save herself.

    Why wouldn’t this rational self interest also be reflected in a court case if she was being prosecuted by the looters with their manufactured laws that exist solely to make everyone a criminal.

    I’m not saying the answer is yes, but it’s not a clear no either.

    * = The other John Galt obviously

  26. Paul Marks says:

    I would trust a Randian Objectivist to do the right thing – more than I would trust a lot of supposedly religious people.

    Just as I would trust Nick to do the right thing – more than I would trust a lot of supposedly religious people.

  27. John Galt says:

    I would also argue that there is a big difference between bearing false witness and committing an act of perjury in a court where the charges relate to a victimless crime and you are the defendant.

    This is where the 5th amendment and right to silence exist and why they have been fundamentally undermined in the UK and the USA by the collectivist oppressors who mouth the mantra of “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”.

    To which of course any decent Randian would exclaim, “The state is the enemy of all I hold sacred; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee”

  28. NickM says:

    I smoke. I don’t smoke in graveyards and never shall. I often on my daily trundle cross my local one. Never smoked there. Never shall. Simples said the meerkat. It is just respect. Now in my book respect should never be demanded, only given.

  29. John Galt says:

    Sure Nick, but that’s respect for the dead, not necessarily the religion.

    It’s one of the things that my mate Jon the stone mason struggles with in regard to the labourers he employs.

    When undertaking masonry, restoration or conservation work on a tomb or family vault there are quite often well preserved remains of the dead (for whom Jon has awesome respect) and he often comes across cofins whose lids or sides have detached and where the dead are clearly visible to the living.

    Not a job for that everybody is comfortable with, but the younger labourers just have no respect for the dead and he often has to hammer it home. It’s not contempt, it’s just ignorance – a complete disconnect.

  30. NickM says:

    At the last premises committee meeting here (as dull as it sounds – actually duller) the issue of the ownership of the retaining wall between the Quaker gaff and the adjoining CofE Church came-up. As one committee member put it, “We don’t want it to collapse and have a flood of skeletons”. Well as Halloween is looming and it is raining like fuck, no we don’t. Not least because it’d be muggins here’s responsibility as warden to “do something”. God knows what. I can’t imagine the cops would be too pleased with the task. And I have no idea how I’d broach the subject, “Sergeant, we seem to have suddenly got an awful lot of corpses in the back garden”. And seeing as they might have had Heaven knows what and it is old I really don’t want to go down as the bloke who re-introduced the planet to smallpox.

  31. Julie near Chicago says:


    Whether it’s “wrong to lie in court” depends on the jurisprudence, real or alleged, that the court follows, and on whether the testimony is part of an unprovoked attack upon the person, and on various other factors as well. If the local thugocracy has told the judge to string you up, and you can lie your way out of false charges somehow (without suggesting some innocent person is guilty), this is just a matter of legitimate self-defense. Same thing if you’re only being called as a witness in such a trial against some other person.

    Whether you can get away with lying in court is another matter entirely.

    My problem with Mr. Brown is that he seems to be unaware of the important adjective rational in Miss R.’s moral theory of rational self-interest. As I’m pretty sure you know, she taught that true self-interest is rational self-interest, in which all of a person’s values are kept in mind as he chooses a course of action, as well as the long-term and the indirect consequences and implications of his choice; reason then discerns the best (or, at least, the least-bad) thing to do. And it’s not, really, in a healthy person’s rational self-interest to cheat, or defraud, or steal, or attack, another person or persons except in self-defense … which is why her concept of “rational self-interest” leads directly to the principle of the non-initiation of force or coercion.

    It’s true that there are people — Mr. Capone, say, or his associate Mr. Nitti, or their spiritual grandson Mr. Obama — who don’t accept that definition of true self-interest. That doesn’t make their behavior “right” according to Objectivist moral theory, though.

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