Presidents in a Nation under God
United States of America, a nation founded under God by believers who trusted in Him, a group a pilgrims that offered the first Thanksgiving dinner.
On March 4, 1933 prior to his swearing‐in ceremony, President‐elect Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor attended a church service at St. John's Episcopal Church, next to the White House. They did the
same at Roosevelt's 1937 and 1941 Inaugurations, and arranged for a private service at the White House the morning of his fourth Inauguration on January 20, 1945.
Roosevelt's Inauguration Day worship service set a precedent that has been followed by Presidents ever since.
Franklin Roosevelt was not the first President to attend church on Inauguration Day, however. In 1789, George Washington attended a service at St. Paul's Chapel in New York City immediately following his swearing‐in ceremony. Although this feature of Washington's Inauguration
did not set a precedent, religion still played a role in subsequent swearing‐in ceremonies. Almost all Presidents since George Washington have placed their hand on a Bible when taking the oath of office. And all Presidents
have included some reference to the Almighty in their Inaugural addresses (except George Washington's second address, which was only 135 words).
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton turned down a request from a group of atheists and agnostics to force Chief Justice John Roberts not to add those words to the 35-word inaugural oath outlined in the Constitution.
The group, led by California atheist Michael Newdow, also wanted to prohibit Obama's chosen inaugural ministers, the Revs. Joseph Lowery and Rick Warren, from offering prayers at Tuesday's inauguration.
Newdow, who lost a Supreme Court battle to get the words "under God" taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance, has failed in similar challenges to the use of religious words and prayers at President George W. Bush's inaugurations.